Refugee Artist Ali Agayev invited city Mayor Peter Soulsby to the City of Sanctuary Drop-in session to present his portrait to him as a thank you for helping to create a welcoming atmosphere in Leicester and all his support for asylum seekers.
Artist Ali Agayev is from Azerbaijan and has been painting portraits in Leicester since 2005. He is a member of “Beyond Borders” art organisation in Nottingham, the “Independant Arts Centre”, “Age Concern” and “Soft Touch Art” of Leicester. Ali is also a long time supporter of Leicester City of Sanctuary and attends the Thursday afternoon drop-in sessions to draw portraits of volunteers and asylum seekers.
Ali has been running art classes for asylum seekers and local people giving them the opportunity to learn together. These classes have fostered friendship across cultures and have provided therapeutic support to asylum seekers traumatised by their experiences of torture and persecution in their homeland. Alongside the drop-in session, Leicester City of Sanctuary art classes and other activities give asylum seekers an opportunity to engage in productive and creative work while they are forbidden to work awaiting Home Office decisions on their claim for sanctuary in the UK.
The local newspaper Leicester Mercury has also published this story which can be accessed here.