SHARED

UNESCO RILA

UNESCO and the University of Glasgow’s Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (RILA) project promotes creative and artistic approaches to refugee inclusion. It explores expressions of migration justice, with the aim of improving the wellbeing of refugees as well as the design of policies affecting them.

UNESCO RILA

UNESCO and the University of Glasgow’s Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (RILA) project promotes creative and artistic approaches to refugee inclusion. It explores expressions of migration justice, with the aim of improving the wellbeing of refugees as well as the design of policies affecting them.

More about UNESCO RILA

Listen to the UNESCO RILA podcast: A collection of academic musings, poetry, lesser heard voices and personal stories to enjoy and expand you horizons.

Led by UNESCO Chair, Professor Alison Phipps, the RILA project aims at improving integration through creative, multilingual learning with refugees. The UNESCO RILA team is comprised of artists-in-residence, researchers and administrators who specialise in think-pieces and reports, artistic outputs, performances and cultural installations that promote linguistic and cultural diversity through research and advocacy.

The project learns from partners and their cultural contexts, particularly those in the Global South, which have long-term refugee and migratory experiences and where resilience has been developed, often in the face of overwhelming linguistic and cultural destruction.

The RILA team uses a variety of creative media to achieve its evidence-based objectives. It employs dance and choreography, for example, to illustrate forms of refugee justice in the Global South as well as interviews, poetry and  personal stories. These have been shared worldwide through the UNESCO RILA podcast: The Sounds of Integration.

Listen to the UNESCO RILA podcast: A collection of academic musings, poetry, lesser heard voices and personal stories to enjoy and expand you horizons.

I believe that it is important to provide people with a safe space where they can open up, share stories and learn from each other without judgement.

How the work started
How the work started

In late 2016, the University of Glasgow was invited to join the network of UNESCO Chairs, where Professor Alison Phipps became the first Chair to centre such a programme on refugee integration, establishing the RILA project.

From the outset, Alison’s aim was for UNESCO RILA to approach this work collectively, as opposed to its being the sole work of a Chair. The RILA team’s activities are underpinned by original and practical research on the value of creative and intercultural communication in multilingual communities as tools for better integration, understanding and wellbeing. The group’s projects explore the power of art as a force for liberation, self-expression and improving mental health. Their public engagement project ‘Refugee Cycle’, undertaken in 2018 with partners Sustrans and Bike for Good, for example, focussed on reversing the roles of host and refugee to encourage empathy and interconnectedness across communities in Glasgow. The RILA team also produces new research and evaluations to support evidence-based understandings of migration, refugee experiences, and the asylum process through affiliations with the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet) and the Migration for Development and Equality Hub (MIDEQ).

I never thought that I would feel what it means to belong through feelings of hope. It is positive that the [UNESCO RILA Spring School] provides experiences to consider this. It opened a new world for me.

Expanding the work

Expanding the work ...

Since 2016, UNESCO RILA has delivered a growing diversity of projects and initiatives. Their Spring School programmes have taken place since 2018, bringing researchers, musicians, artists, and students together to improve their sense of wellbeing and belonging through arts-based activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this was of particular importance with participants sharing creative strategies for resilience and connection.

Colouring outside the Lines, launched in 2021, was the RILA team’s first virtual arts exhibition. It showcased work from RILA’s Affiliate Artist Network, which reflected on the role arts and languages play in bringing people together and challenged visitors to imagine what an interconnected and more hospitable world could look like. The UNESCO RILA team has also contributed to a broader range of international networks that value the arts as unparalleled tools for positive transformation. These include UNESCO Art-Lab, which seeks to mainstream arts and culture in humanitarianism and the advancement of human rights and dignity.

You might also like

Mishwar Amal

Learn about Mishwar Amal, a community-run charity using arts-based activities to work with refugee children and youth in North Lebanon.

Life Rooms

Find out about Merseycare’s innovative Life Rooms initiative which offers access to learning and creative activities in the community to improve mental and physical health.

Don’t Miss

Approaches to Practice

Hear from Musician and Sound Healer, Edugie Clare Robertson about her community building and wellbeing work delivered with elders, refugee groups, postnatal women and neonatal babies.

Scroll to Top