In a turbulent world, what can we learn from wellbeing in the lives of young refugees? We look at this question through a project called Drawing Together. By using that phrase, we mean two things. One is about making visual art with young refugees. The other is understanding, through artwork and storytelling, how young refugees and others get close to each other over time, and how that sustains wellbeing for them all. In our project, young people speak about family and friends who are far away but close, as well as those in the localities where they make their lives.

Our participants are young adults – men and women, equal in number. They arrived in Scotland, Finland, and Norway as unaccompanied asylum seeking minors, but were granted refugee status. They have grown into adulthood and settled in these countries. Over time, they have built a sustainable life around themselves. They have learnt new languages. They have also learnt to overcome being told ‘no’ in many ways. With those who said ‘yes’ to them, they have moved from receiving hospitality to being reciprocal.

Also, within this project we ask ‘How do we focus on wellness without idealising it or sentimentalising it? How do we portray the ways life carries on quietly, stitching itself together almost unnoticed? What should we show about the little joys, the emerging alliances with others, the small tokens of kindness, gratitude, and goodness?’ Equally, how should we show the day-to-day challenges and pitfalls, and ways of navigating that young refugees use to find ways forward in life.

Films of the participants

The films below are part of the project’s work. Each film covers three dimensions of relational wellbeing, from ‘having enough’ to ‘being connected’ to ‘feeling good’. In the film ‘Becoming me in a new country’ participants talk about Scotland and Scottish people in relation to these three dimensions. The Introduction by Ravi Kohli gives an idea of the ideas and people behind the research, and why its important to focus on relational wellbeing. And the third film ‘Circles of Solidarity’ shows the perspectives and experiences of Scottish people who have looked after young refugees,

All films were made and edited by Petter Korkman from the Culture Factory for Knowledge Sharing, Finland. Click on the film titles below to view the videos.

‘Becoming me in a new country’

‘Circles of Solidarity’

‘Drawing Together Introduction’

Further information about the project can be found at