Event / 28 Jan 2023

We Are Here, Because You Were There: Symposium

Paul Dear, Carolyn Johnstone, Shereen Williams, Dr Sara de Jong, Andy Barnham

Join us on Saturday 28th January for an afternoon packed full of inspirational talks, shared experiences and lively debate, focussed on the subjects raised in We Are Here, Because You Were There: Afghan Interpreters in the UK.

12.30pm - Project talk from co-creators photographer Andy Barnham and academic Sara De Jong.

2pm - Shared lived experiences from Afghan Interpreters

3.30pm - Panel Discussion - Resettlement in the UK and Wales: A Nation of Sanctuary

Please note - due to the importance of retaining anonymity for the interpreters who have kindly offered to share their experiences with us, there will be strictly no photography or videography permitted at this event/these events.

About Artists

Portrait of Paul Dear

Paul Dear

Paul Dear is Deputy Director of the Cohesive Communities Division in the Welsh Government. The division includes the Inclusion and Cohesion team which leads the Welsh Government’s work in relation to refugees, asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers. This includes managing the implementation of the Nation of Sanctuary Refugee and Asylum Seeker Plan and related work including Afghanistan Integration and Resettlement. Paul has worked for the Welsh Government since 2006, having previously worked for local government, the voluntary sector and the Methodist Church. In a private capacity, he was the founding chair of the Trinity Centre in Cardiff, which provides support for refugees and asylum seekers. Paul lives in Cardiff.

Portrait of Carolyn Johnstone

Carolyn Johnstone

Carolyn fell into being involved with the Afghan Interpreters by accident. She sent a tweet, which was responded to by a number of Afghan ‘Terps who had been refused acceptance to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy. She approached a former soldier, Charlie Herbert, to ask how to to appeal the decision. Due to his leading on the political campaign backed by other former senior military staff, he said that he didn’t have time. Charlie sent Carolyn to Johnny Mercer MP who replied to her email stating that he couldn’t help, and that Charlie was the man to go to…

So started Carolyn’s journey with assisting many Afghan Terps and their families to escape being hunted by the women hating, authoritarian, despotic Taliban.

Born in Porthcawl, where her father still lives, Carolyn is a mum of two, a wife of one and has a history of campaigning for disabled rights/opportunities and for women. With a varied work history including cleaning, Tequila Girl, selling chemical toilets (please don’t mention the festivals), Parliamentary candidate and Councillor. Unafraid of taking and holding a moral stance she humbly describes herself as the backbone of the nation.

What others have said about Carolyn:

“Doin’ The Lord’s Work”

“Who are you?”

“She was there from the day the Taliban started searching in Kabul for us. She never ignored us. She did more than our expectations. Finally she saved me and today I made it to the UK. I will remember Carolyn for my whole life.”

Portrait of Shereen Williams

Shereen Williams

Shereen Williams MBE OStJ DL is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales (LDBCW) and Secretary to the Boundary Commission for Wales (BCW). Prior to this, she worked in local government for nearly a decade across Newport and Monmouthshire Local Authorities as the Connected Communities Manager and before that as the Regional Community Cohesion Co-ordinator for East Gwent. The team she managed were responsible for the delivery of strategic priorities including Migration, Preventing Violent Extremism, Equalities and Community Cohesion. During her time in this role, she was the lead officer in overseeing the Afghan Interpreters Resettlement programme in Monmouthshire, the first local authority in Wales to support to the programme.

Portrait of Dr Sara de Jong

Dr Sara de Jong

Dr Sara de Jong is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics, University of York, who researches the protection and resettlement of Afghan interpreters employed by Western armies. Since 2017, she has conducted more than 80 interviews with interpreters and advocates in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands. She is also the co-founder of the charity Sulha Alliance, which advocates for Afghan interpreters who worked for the British Armed Forces.

Portrait of Andy Barnham

Andy Barnham

Andy Barnham is a photographer, veteran and son of a refugee. Mixed race English/ Chinese and multilingual (English, Chinese, French and Farsi) Andy was born in Hong Kong and attended school and university in the UK before serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery, deploying on operational tours multiple times to Iraq, Cyprus and Afghanistan where he documented his experiences as a hobbyist photographer. After leaving the British Army Andy turned this passion into a career and landed on Savile Row becoming immersed in London’s sartorial scene. For over a decade he photographed the best of British heritage and craft for luxury editorial titles before focusing his observational and interpersonal skills on portraiture. We Are Here was a winner at the 2022 Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3) photography awards in the portraiture category.