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Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network (LASSN) were recently approached to create a piece of artwork for Leeds University’s School of Medicine. The brief was to create a piece of collaborative art that would help explain the health priorities of refugees and asylum seekers,and to raise awareness of what matters to Refugees and Asylum Seekers amongst their students.
LASSN approached the Women’s Health Befriending Project – which is run on the principles of mutual aid and self-help – where women support and advocate for one another by attending health appointments, helping to interpret for one another and understand the treatments they are offered as well as providing practical and emotional support.
The resulting collaboration between LASSN, Women’s Health Befriending Project and artist Carol Sohaindo produced this amazing tree of health, a banner weaving together the different words and perspectives of women from many backgrounds to produce a single arresting image.At its heart lies a personalised notion of health, although we are reminded that “[you]…can’t put down roots until you know what’s going to happen next”
Seeking refuge and asylum is a difficult and complex process, with high levels of uncertainty. In this image the women captured the importance of care, compassion and kindness in the way healthcare is delivered, especially to people struggling to make a new home in a strange place. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
LASSN’s 230 volunteers supported more than 480 people last year to find somewhere to stay, to learn english and to make friends. The Women’s Health Befriending Project started as a Refugee Council project, and is now hosted by Leeds City of Sanctuary.

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