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Manchester City of Literature- 'Happy, Safe, Free'

We are happy to announce this project won the 'Promotion of Equality and Social Justice Award' in the 2023 Manchester Cultural Awards.

Events in the world can be looked at different ways. This poem shows this. Please read this poem aloud to your child. Then, read it aloud again, but this time start with the last line and read through to the first line (reading it backwards).




They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These are people just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way.


Manchester is known as a 'City of Sanctuary'.

This year is also the Manchester's 'Year of the Child'. 


Well Green Primary children have undertaken work to help them develop their understanding and empathy for refugees and asylum seekers or to maybe explore their own family's migration story, either in the distant past or more recently.


Well Green children are part of 10,000 young artists to take part in this city-wide art project. 

In February, children created text art on green A4 paper. The looked at examples of other text based artists and created their own piece exploring all the things at home and at school that make them feel 'happy'.


This was followed by creating other two pieces of art works using blue and grey A4 paper exploring what makes them feel 'safe' and 'free' respectively.


City based artists worked with refugee groups to make small and large origami boats representing 'Hope'.




A group of Year 5s and Year 6s were then asked to destroy all the art works representing things that made us feel happy, safe and free and to reflect on how difficult it must be to make a journey where you leave everything behind that made you feel happy, safe and free. 



This shredded green, blue and grey paper will be part of a huge 'sea' that children can play in the Whitworth Art Gallery for all of June 2022

The art work that was destroyed, was destroyed by shredding. This shredded paper was then gathered up to make a sea and the boats representing 'hope' were displayed upon them across eleven of Manchester's cultural assets.

These included Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Central Library, Manchester Art Gallery,  Whitworth Art Gallery, the Jewish History Museum and North City Library. 

The art installations are being displayed for 'Refugee Week' ( The installation at the Whitworth Art Gallery in conjunction with the University of Manchester,  is available to view for three weeks.



After the exhibition, the paper will be gathered up and turned into papier mache. This will then be given back to the young artists and turned into a bowl. Each bowl is a vessel that represents a refugee with potential usefulness for our city. Each individual has talents, skills and ideas for our community. 

In October, these bowls will be displayed in the Whitworth Art Gallery. They will be for sale and the money raised will be given to refugee charities.

Our work will displayed across eleven cultural assets in Manchester.