NEWS: Little Amal ‘once in a lifetime’ visit to Erdington as part of international art festival

Words by Ed King / Images supplied by Good Chance Theatre and Active Arts

On Thursday October 28 the eyes of the world will turn to Erdington, as the globetrotting symbol of peace and compassion, Little Amal, makes a special visit to the High Street – as part of the Kaleidoscope event.

Children and families are invited to meet the 12ft high piece of living artwork, as a carnival of street games, arts, craft, and live music will welcome Little Amal to Erdington.

Beginning in Central Square and making its way towards Erdington Library, the Kaleidoscope event and Little Amal visit is free to attend and open to local adults and children of all ages.

Little Amal’s visit to Erdington is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to see the giant puppet and international art festival, which have been travelling the world to focus global attention on the urgent plight of refugee children.

Travelling over 8000 miles before arriving in Erdington, Little Amal has been on ‘The Walk’ since July – starting on the Syria/Turkey boarder, visiting several countries and meeting thousands of children and people from different backgorunds and nationalities.

Grabbing the attention of communities and community leaders across the world, Little Amal even had an audience with Pope Francis in early September 2021.

Organisers of the Kaleidoscope event and Little Amal Erdington visit are looking for local children to get involved, with intergenerational art and craft workshops taking place every Saturday before the big day.

Also free to attend, the Little Amal workshops are being hosted by local artists and arts organisations including Foka Wolf, Pavel Brăila, Ranbir Kaur, Centrala, Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham, and Erdington Arts Forum.

With extra dates added, the Little Amal workshops will be held between 1-3pm on Saturday October 9,  16 and 23 at the Secret Arts Space in the Central Square Shopping Centre on Erdington High Street.

Adult volunteers are also being sought to help welcome Little Amal to Erdington and to support the build-up to the October event.

For more information or to secure a place on a Little Amal workshop visit www.activearts.wordpress.com/little-amal or email activeartscv@gmail.com

Based on a young Syrian girl, separated from her mother as her family try to find food, Little Amal began her journey in Turkey and will travel overland through Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and the UK.

According to UNICEF, the United Nations’ child support agency, 33 million children had been ‘forcibly displaced’ at the end of 2019 – with the chilling numbers of lost young people over doubling in the last decade.

Children now account for over 50% of the world’s refugees and displaced people.

Little Amal’s international odyssey will end in Manchester in November, but not before Erdington gets a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to take part in this profound piece of living theatre on Thursday October 28.

Local arts charity Active Arts is leading Erdington’s Little Amal event on behalf of Birmingham City Council and Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Further partners include Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham, Centrala, Open Theatre Company, Mama Dojo, Surge Forward Music & Arts, Vortex Creates, Autin Dance Theatre, Everyone Erdington, Oikos Café, Six Ways Baptist Church & Food Bank, Erdington BID and Godwin Development.

Active Arts Project Director Claire Marshall told Erdington Local: “Little Amal coming to Erdington is a once in a lifetime opportunity for local people to be part of a beautiful worldwide event.

“It will be an exciting and family friendly occasion, a colourful celebration, but one with an important message – that across the world children and young people are still suffering.

“Erdington is a diverse and loving community, one that takes care of people in need. When Little Amal comes to visit, we have a chance to show the world how welcoming we can be.”

Little Amal’s global journey is being organised by Good Chance Theatre, with the 12ft high puppet created by the Handspring Puppet Company – the creative team behind War Horse.

Inspired by stories from the Calais refugee camp, after Good Chance’s founders Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson created their Theatre of Hope in the 2015, Little Amal is coming to Erdington as part of the Active Arts organised Kaleidoscope event and Birmingham’s City of Sanctuary activity.

For more on the Kaleidoscope event and Little Amal’s visit to Erdington visit www.activearts.wordpress.com/little-amal or email activeartscv@gmail.com

For more on Little Amal and ‘The Walk’ visit www.walkwithamal.org    

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