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Urban refugees 1: If I were a photographer . . .

To think about the question of how we can use our gifts for good.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To think about the question of how we can use our gifts for good.

Preparation and materials


  1. I wonder if you have one of these? (Hold up the camera.) If I gave you this camera for a day, what would you take photos of? Think about it for a moment.

    Reader 1  I would take photos of all my friends. We would pull silly faces and do funny things.

    Reader 2  I would take pictures of my cat Lexi. She is so cute. I love baby animals, and like looking at pictures of kittens on the computer.

    Reader 3  I would go into town and take pictures of famous buildings like the theatre and the castle. I would get some great pictures of the river and the bridges.

  2. Today’s assembly is about an actual photographer, called Andrew McConnell. His photos have been printed in magazines and he has won many awards for his work. We are going to look at his latest project, and find out his reasons for choosing to take these particular photographs.

    This interview is based on actual interviews with and reports about Andrew McConnell.

  3. Interviewer  So, Andrew, what do you take photos of?

    Andrew  The photos in this collection are all portraits of urban refugees, photographed in eight cities across four continents.

    Interviewer  What are urban refugees?

    Andrew  Refugees are people who have had to leave their homes because they have been badly treated and are afraid for their safety. Urban refugees flee to cities all over the world to find a safe place to live.

    Interviewer  That doesn’t sound very exciting. Why did you choose to take photos of urban refugees?

    Andrew  People think that all refugees live in tents in the middle of nowhere. The reality has changed and I want to show the true facts in my photos. Now over 6 million people, more than half of the world’s refugees, live in some of the world’s biggest cities.

    Interviewer  So where will your photos be displayed? In a gallery somewhere?

    Andrew  No, the exhibition is called ‘Hidden Lives – The Untold Story of Urban Refugees’, and it was displayed in St Pancras International station in London from 6 to 31 January 2013. Hopefully, it will move on to Brussels and New York.

    Interviewer  In a station? Why would you want your photos displayed in a station?

    Andrew  Up to a million people a week pass through St Pancras station. This is where photography should be displayed, where everyone can see it.

    Interviewer  You are obviously a really good photographer. How have you used your gift for good?

    Andrew  I hope that this display will change people’s minds about urban refugees. Next to each photo is the story of each individual. I want people to see urban refugees as individuals and not as a crowd of nameless faces.  

Time for reflection

Andrew McConnell has clearly used his creative gift for the good of others. We can all learn something from his example.

We all have gifts. We are all good at something.

Drawing, dancing, cooking, writing stories.

Sport, playing an instrument, singing.

Or maybe something completely different.

Take a moment to reflect on what you are good at.

It is how we choose to use our gifts that is important.

How can you use your creative gift for the good of others?

Reader 1  I am pretty good at baking. I suppose I could make some cupcakes with my mum and take them round to the old lady next door. I think she is lonely.

Reader 2  I love running. I could enter the fun run in the park next month and raise money for a charity.

Reader 3  I am good at drawing. I could design an anti-bullying poster to put up in school.

Leader  What could you do?

Let us finish with a short prayer. You may make these words your own if you wish.

Dear God,
We remember the urban refugees in big cities all over the world.
We thank you for the work of Andrew McConnell.
May we find ways to use our gifts for the good of others.


‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 69)

Publication date: January 2013   (Vol.15 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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