Words: Sarah Stone, Director and Founder of Stone Barrell

This Christmas, thousands of people seeking refuge in the UK are at risk of homelessness.
We partnered with the Boaz Trust on their 2023 Christmas appeal to help give people who’ve fled conflict and persecution somewhere warm and safe to sleep this winter.

I sometimes (/often) despair at the words and policies coming from the UK government and certain politicians. Earlier this year, the Illegal Migration Act was passed, making it nearly impossible for most people who’ve experienced conflict, persecution or human rights abuses to claim asylum here in the UK. And then earlier this month (the now former Home Secretary) Suella Braverman announced her plans to ban tents for people living on the streets (‘many of them from abroad’) as a ‘lifestyle choice’.

With this backdrop, Stone Barrell feels privileged to have partnered with the Boaz Trust, an organisation helping people who are being left homeless and destitute by the UK’s asylum system. As doors seem to be slamming shut for people seeking refuge in the UK, Boaz’s ‘Open the Doors’ Christmas appeal is all about doing the opposite – choosing to give a warm welcome and hope to people who’ve been forced to flee their home countries. People like Noah*. 

And it feels like there couldn’t be a more important time to tell this story.

Please do take 3 minutes to watch Noah’s Story (at the top of this blog) and hear from someone who knows what it’s like to be homeless and destitute in the UK – not as a ‘lifestyle choice’ but as the only choice.

We absolutely loved working on this video with Boaz, and are excited to announce that Noah's Story is a finalist in the 2024 Smiley Charity Film Awards.

The Making of Noah’s Story 

Behind-the-scenes filming shots, Stone Barrell and Noah filming in Manchester, UK, for the Boaz Trust

Noah is amazing and we think his story is so powerful – giving us a real glimpse into what life is like for people seeking safety in the UK, and showing the literally life-changing impact nonprofits like Boaz have for people who have nowhere left to turn. We loved spending 24 hours with him and the Boaz team in Manchester filming for the video. But, as you can imagine, the process of creating Noah’s Story took much longer (and we loved that part too).

Boaz originally got in touch with us about collaborating with them back in May 2023, which was great, as it gave us loads of time to work together on an approach and a plan for the appeal. Once the Boaz team had asked Noah if he’d be part of the project, we had a video call with him to hear his story, chat through ideas, and make sure he had given informed consent and was totally happy to be involved. We then storyboarded based on what Noah had told us, location scouted and roped in some of the Boaz team and Noah’s friends as extras (thanks to Boaz’s Rich for doing a lot of that legwork!). All this pre-planning essentially meant the shoot went really smoothly, and there was lots of time left for post-production.

As well as filming and editing the video, we also provided the Boaz Trust with photographs to use online and in supporting materials, and helped them write their direct mail Christmas appeal, going out to current supporters and churches in Manchester. 

As with all Stone Barrell projects, this was a collaboration from day one and we couldn’t have made the video without Kerry, Emma and Rich from Boaz (who are absolute heroes), and of course without Noah, who (I’m sure you’ll agree) shared his story so beautifully. Thank you Noah and team Boaz for trusting us!

Speaking about our work creating Noah’s Story and supporting their ‘Open the Doors’ Christmas appeal, Ros Holland, CEO of Boaz, said:

"Sarah and Jacob worked with our team to produce a video for our Christmas appeal. They were brilliantly helpful at all stages of the process, and were incredibly understanding, sensitive and keen to ensure that the final film and linked materials / comms were as impactful as possible. Would highly recommend Stone Barrell and would love to work with them again in the future!"

*Name changed

It’s honestly such a privilege to work with nonprofits like Boaz, made up of brilliant people dedicated to making the world a better place. If you need help telling your story, drop us a message. This is what we love to do. Let’s change the world together.

Find out more about the Boaz Trust and their work supporting people seeking safety in the North West, and if you can, give to their Christmas appeal to help them keep bringing hope.