Lives On Hold

‘All the voices that everyone says they want to hear, but no-one wants to listen to. This project means being heard.’

These words were scripted by a young person who came to the UK as an unaccompanied child seeking asylum, who co-produced this docu-animation as part of Lives On Hold, Our Stories Told (LOHST) a participatory research project with University College London, Southampton University Liverpool University and Shpresa Programme. 

Storytelling was intrinsic to the young people’s ideas for the research, and as part of the co-production approach the young people chose what meaningful participation meant for them throughout the process. This included choosing the format (a documentary, animation, web design and visual identity) and developing their skills by working with creative professionals. In the words of the young people and university researchers:

“We worked so hard and fought so much with our own selves to be brave enough and able to share these stories with the world. We drew, we wrote, we filmed, we spoke, we raised our voices and told our stories. It wasn’t easy to share part of our lives, and I don’t think it will ever be, but we did it because we need and we have to change this cruel reality and our voices will. We are proud of all the work we have done and everything we have achieved, and finally the world will get to hear and see our side of the story! Working with such an amazing team of professionals to bring to life our unique stories, through drawings, animation and documentary film, has been a dream come true.” (A young co-researcher)

“It’s hard to imagine how we might have conveyed the experiences and voices of the young asylum seekers’ experiences of the asylum system without the expertise, sensitivity and creativity of Positive Negatives. Their commitment to training and empowering the young people as co-creators of the documentary and animations enhanced the project beyond measure.” (Professor Helen Stalford, University of Liverpool)



The documentary, animation, visual identity and web development were created by and for young unaccompanied people seeking asylum and Shpresa Programme, together with:

Artist: Kristjan

University researchers: Professor Helen Stalford, Professor Elaine Chase, Assistant Professor Will Shankley, Dr Ingi Iusmen, Dr Jana Kreppner

Interviews with: John Stokes, Luljeta Nuzi, Flutra Shega, Jo Schofield, Anna Skehan, Clinton Waller 

Creative Team: Producer: Emily Oliver (PositiveNegatives), Director: George MacCallum (Welcome Studios), Animator: Rosie Holtom, Sound design: Robin Clarke, Extra camera: Jo Cowie, Voice over artists: Ahmed and Migena, Special thanks: Jamie McCormack & Luisa Soares, Music from Soundstripe (Up Above by Chelsea McGough, Falls by Ripley, Endless Night by Moments)

Find out more at Lives On Hold

The LOHST research project is coordinated by:

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to covid.

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