Guest blog by Anna Roderick
It was a boiling hot summer’s day. We’d come to Sidmouth to meet a BBC crew and we sheltered in the shade of some trees to discuss the day’s filming. The plan was to produce a 10 minute film about ABIDE, a community sponsorship group, and the Syrian refugee family it supports. We were starting with some footage of Hani, the dad, doing work experience with a local gardener. The setting, in the grounds of a manor house on cliffs above the sea, couldn’t have been more idyllic.
I had been slightly reticent to suggest the idea of the film to Hani and Amneh. My hope was that it might help to promote the Community Sponsorship scheme and encourage other communities to take up the challenge. However, I was concerned that they should not feel under pressure to do anything they felt uncomfortable about. I needn’t have worried. They agreed without hesitation, happy to do anything that might help another refugee family. I took care to spell out the possible drawbacks.
“It might prompt some unpleasant responses on social media from people who don’t support refugees.”
“That doesn’t matter,” said Amneh, “I just won’t read them.”
We ended up filming for a total of two days. It soon became apparent that Hani was something of a natural in front of the camera. And, whilst Amneh was slightly more hesitant, she enjoyed showing off her rapidly growing grasp of English. I’d been given some good advice about having clear parameters in mind for the film although, in practice, I found it very easy to work with the BBC producer, who was good at putting everyone at their ease.
We were pleased with the end result. I was anxious about the level of personal detail that Hani revealed but, for him, it seemed to be important to tell his own story. Judging by the feedback that we’ve received, other people also found it helpful to gain an insight into the family’s previous experiences. There has been the odd negative comment on social media but these have been far out-weighed by the messages of support and encouragement. Hani and Amneh seemed pleased too. They’re already asking me about a sequel!
The BBC Documentary was shown on Inside Out South West on 4th February 2019. Watch it here