For this year's International Migrants Day, the Refugee Council and Families Together coalition released a heart-rending stop motion animation to illustrate the horrors of present-day war and conflict which see children as young as 13 ripped apart from their families and left with no choice but to flee for safety alone.
Without My Mum was created by award-winning animator Catherine Prowse and tells the story of a mother and her young son whose familiar, loving relationship instantly changes forever when the threat of violence forces the mother to make a devastating decision: stay in their home as it quickly becomes a conflict zone, or protect her child and get him to safety – any way she can.
In desperation she chooses the latter, and though her son finds safety in Britain, and support from a foster family, the ending is far from happy with the traumatised teen bereft at the separation from his mother, broken by the prospect of a future without her.
The animation, which represents characters using intricate, handmade puppets, is part of the growing Families Together campaign to raise awareness of the plight of refugee children prevented from being reunited with any of their family in Britain due to unfair and unnecessarily restrictive rules.
Unlike most other countries in Europe, which actively support refugee family reunion for child refugees, the UK's immigration rules deny children the right to be reunited with any family members who are still overseas.
Catherine said: "I knew very little about the struggles that child refugees in the UK face. I think we are all familiar with news stories about refugee families being forcibly separated in other countries, but I didn’t have much of a concept of refugee children growing up in this country without their families.
"To me, families being denied reunification because of current laws in the UK is no less of a tragic and unnecessary separation, so I hope the film provides a relatable and arresting visual narrative to an issue that deserves all of our attention.
"By following the story of the little boy I hope viewers will understand that having to flee your home is something that could potentially happen to anyone, that refugees are not statistics, they’re individuals just like us, with the same hopes and fears and relationships we have."
The Refugee Council is campaigning as part of the Families Together coalition, which is calling on the Government change these restrictive rules, arguing they fundamentally undermine the Government's duty to respect the rights of refugee children in the UK to be with their parents and siblings. You can read more about this work here and sign their petition to change these rules here.
The film was funded by the Families Together Programme.