Let's Build Empathy

Sanctuary Foundation is proud to present an exciting new art and poetry competition that invites students from years 3-13 to reflect on what life is like for the 43.3 million children around the world who are displaced. Schools should digitally submit their top 3 pieces in each category.

Students can create either a piece of artwork or a piece of poetry illustrating their empathy with or experience of being separated from the place they call home. These creations will be judged by a fantastic panel of celebrities, refugees, and journalists with the top 30 entries going on display in The British Library during National Refugee Week (17th-21st June 2024). They will also be featured in a special national online assembly, in the press and elsewhere. The prize ceremony will be at the British Library on Friday 21st June 2024.

Win the opportunity to have your work displayed at the British Library for World Refugee Week.

Open to all students aged 7-18

We are looking for original work that helps people connect emotionally with the refugee experience.

Deadline for submissions:FRIDAY 24 MAY 2024


  • The competition is open from 1st of February 2024.
  • Any student aged 7-18 can enter a single submission.
  • Closing date is 20th May 2024. (11.59pm)
  • Judging will take place following the closing date.
  • Artwork should be produced on A4-sized paper, in landscape format, as two-dimensional submissions, in any appropriate media.
  • Poetry should be no longer than 14 lines.
  • Schools should submit a .jpg image of the artwork or a .pdf file of the poem with the student’s name, year group and school contact details via a link on the Sanctuary Foundation website. Each submission should not be larger than 4MB.
  • If the student is a newcomer to the UK, then school can choose to submit their work they work under the newcomer category.
  • Schools should retain physical copies of artwork and poetry submitted for potential display.
  • Schools will be notified of shortlisted winners on 10th June.
  • Shortlisted winners will be announced on 17th June.
  • Finalists will be revealed on 20th June.

Please note:

  • One entry per student is permitted.
  • Each entry should be an original unpublished work.
  • Poetry submissions should be typed, and artwork scanned. This should allow schools to “save as” a .pdf (poetry) or a .jpg (artwork).
  • No changes can be made once entries have been submitted.
  • The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • All pieces will be judged on how effectively they express or elicit empathy with an aspect of the refugee experience.


I don't want to talk about Home
by Suad Aldarra

What after all is Home?

It is the smell of a traditional home-cooked meal that greets you as you walk through the front door after a long day.

A warm hug from a grandmother who always treats you like a special guest.

Hysterical laughter with an old friend at a favourite coffee shop where they know your usual order.

A loud family gathering you secretly wish to escape to avoid the endless prying questions.

Your native language on the street signs and on the radio.

Familiar faces, and roads you know like the back of your hand.

It is all those little things that can’t be written down or described to those who haven’t been there.

It is the hole inside your soul that can’t be filled by any other place.

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