BB Exhibit 2017 | Claiming a New Place on Earth


Breaking Barriers

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‘Claiming a New Place on Earth’

Proudly supported by:


Thousands of teenagers arrive in the UK every year seeking asylum, some with family members, many on their own. Many have missed out on an education and are scarred by war and having to flee their home countries. In the UK, they must navigate complex systems to get the support they need. Yet these are also young people with talent, pride, aspirations and dreams.

We wanted to let young refugees tell their stories in their own words, so we commission and curated an exhibition – supported by Mishcon de Reya and IKEA – at Protein Studios in the heart of Shoreditch and collaborated with photographer Caroline Irby and journalist Veronique Mistiaen to record the journeys of a series of refugees and people seeking asylum, who arrived in the UK as minors and are now coming of age.

These young people are from Syria, Ivory Coast, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ukraine and Pakistan. They talk about the lives they left behind and their new lives here – not only the hurdles and challenges they face, but also their hopes for the future. We decided to photograph each of them in the context of their dream jobs.


The Private View

‘The private view was a fantastic opportunity to bring together our corporate partners, donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, celebrities and the BB team to celebrate our achievements over the past 12 months. Special thanks go to IKEA and Mishcon de Reya, without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible.”

Matthew Powell | CEO


The Response

The exhibition generated significant publicity- our CEO and one of the participants were interviewed live on BBC World News – we were featured in the Guardian, Stylist, Huffington Post, City AM, Monocle and Timeout voted us the #1 thing to do in London.

We were inundated with messages of support and offers for volunteers. A special thanks to everyone who came forward to donate money towards Sheun’s driving lessons – with your help he is still taking lessons and hopes to pass his test very soon.

Good Luck Sheun!

Our Supporters

“IKEA is very proud to support the work of Breaking Barriers. We’ve been lucky enough to work closely with them over the past year in the development of their Customer Service Course and so far have employed 10 candidates from Breaking Barriers. The BB Exhibit did a fantastic job of bringing to light the struggles that many refugees face that are often hidden from the public eye. Myself and 16 other IKEA colleagues found the private view a true inspiration. We were humbled by stories we heard and further inspired to do as much as we can as a business to support refugees living in our local communities.”

Hilary Jenkins I People & Communities Leader, IKEA UK & IE

For media opportunities, to sponsor next year’s exhibition, or to hear about how your business can help young refugees living in London, please get in touch here.