Maison Foo invites people to Meet Your Neighbour

Published: 24 November 2018

A chance comment from a refugee two years ago has led a Derby theatre company to organise an event at which people can meet refugees and asylum seekers.

Maison Foo is staging Meet Your Neighbour where people from different backgrounds can come together to get to know one another and create an understanding of different cultures and communities.

In 2017 during a visit to the Refugee Advice Centre in Derby, Maison Foo’s artistic directors Beth Sheldon and Kate Lowe met a refugee who told them “you are the first two people I have had a conversation with in two years”.

Sheldon said, “we came away from that meeting asking ourselves what could two artists do to make people from refugee and asylum seeker communities more welcome?

“We approached Derby Theatre where we are associate artists and Derby Refugee Advice Centre to see if they would both work with us to set up a steering group of refugee friends to put on a community event. Both agreed.

“Meet Your Neighbour has been developed through this connection. We feel if more people took the time to get to know others, they would soon stop listening to the negative headlines connected to asylum and see how much we benefit from the diverse culture our new neighbours bring.”

Ruth Long, volunteer co-ordinator at Derby Refugee Advice Centre, said, “being able to build great relationships with arts organisations like Maison Foo enables us to do this in creative ways we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do and develop new, exciting projects for the future."

Meet Your Neighbour will be held at Derby Theatre between 12 and 2PM on Saturday 1 December.

Steve Orme