City’s diversity through a lens

Gareth Philips’s photography projects have seen him fly all over the world investigating the effects of migration on children.  Jessica Shankleman discovers the roots behind his passion and how Cardiff’s next generation relates to its multicultural surroundings

A Penarth photographer and a multicultural school in Cardiff have teamed up to produce a film about how immigration affects children in Cardiff.

The film, called Open Cities, traces a five-day photography workshop run by Gareth Philips in St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Canton,  earlier this year.  Gareth gave disposable cameras to 30 children and set them homework to help trace their links back to their parents, who were first and second generation immigrants.

Joe Perrin, from Dinas Powys, filmed the documentary. He said: “The film is based around a photography project which Gareth took part in a year ago with the British Council. Eight European cities took part in it and it investigated the positive effects of migration.

“They took photographs of families in their cities who had recently migrated and asked them what it was like. After that, Gareth made it into a workshop in the school.

“The film documents the work ethic Gareth took in Cardiff and how it incorporated integration and multiculturalism, including families from Zambia, Poland, Lithuania, Pakistan and Indonesia, focusing particularly on Derek Ingualube and his daughter Mercy from Zambia.”

The film will be released next week by the British Council and Joe hopes it will inspire other photographers to make similar workshops.  He said: “Hopefully it will be put on the website too. People are more likely to watch the film than read a lot of information.

“So it will be a bit more information about what this project is about and hopefully it will help people look at immigration in more of a positive manner and the effects immigration has on children in schools and how positive it is.”

Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2006 showed Cardiff’s migrant population had rapidly increased over the past 10 years.  The study found the main migrant communities in Cardiff are in Riverside, Grangetown and Butetown. The British Council’s Open Cities initiative includes Cardiff as one of its 12 partner cities.

The scheme aims to identify links between migration and the increased competitiveness of cities in terms of social and economic factors. They aim to show migration has a positive affect on European cities, through an increased workforce and the positive effects of multiculturalism on the population of its member cities.

The British Council defines Cardiff as a city built on immigration and links the growth in the city’s public service industry with the increase in migration from areas such as China and Somalia.

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