Asmarina Voices
Asmarina Voices
© Photo by Rob Freeman

West Yorkshire Playhouse has been awarded a £25,000 grant for the theatre's work with refugees and asylum seekers.

The money was awarded by the Asda Foundation, which is a £380,000 grant for innovative mental health projects. Leeds Community Foundation identified the projects to receive the money.

The theatre's artistic director, James Brining, said: "This fantastic and generous grant from the Asda Foundation will see us extend our support groups for refugees and offer new projects such as befriending and volunteering, which people across the city can get involved with."

One of the projects the theatre runs as part of its programme is Asmarina Voices; free weekly choir sessions for female refugees and asylum seekers in the area. The group are occasionally given chances to perform at events, as well as attending shows and other projects together.

Zenvy, a member of the choir for two years, said: "It can be lonely not having places to go and people to meet with – but this is my opportunity to have time for myself.

"When I come to the choir, I can forget the things that stress me - even just for an hour. I feel welcome. When people are warm to you that is very important."

WYP's programme of support will be delivered in partnership with City of Sanctuary, a Leeds-based charity which works with refugees in the region. The programme also includes workshops for refugees to improve their public speaking and presentation skills, and a free ticket scheme for WYP productions.