Press Release 5 Stories of Sanctuary _ s


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Director and Music Facilitator

Sam Slatcher is a singer-songwriter, community arts facilitator and founder of Citizen Songwriters CIC. Sam is passionate about engaging different communities in the process of storytelling through songwriting. In 2018, Sam graduated from Durham University with a PhD in Human Geography on creative community engagement. Sam set up Citizen Songwriters in December 2018 after the success of the Stories of Sanctuary project.



Director and Development Officer

Pippa Bell is a director of Citizens Songwriters. She works in education using the visual arts to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds including prisoners, asylum seekers and refugees. Pippa Bell is as an exile from the south of England who has lived in the North East for 25 years and believes Durham, with the strong sense of community and welcome at its core, to be the best place in the world to live



Director and Tour Coordinator

Sabah Al Hassoun is a director of Citizen Songwriter and the Stories of Sanctuary tour coordinator. Sabah worked as a teaching assistant in Syria and was passionate about encouraging children to learn, but was forced to leave her country and her job because of the war. She was grateful for the chance to come to Durham to start a new life, but explains how hard it is to be separated from her family: “I am not used to being away from my family for more than a month. It has been three years now and God knows how long will it take before I see them again”. Since arriving in Durham, Sabah has brought her talents and enthusiasm to many projects, including Stories of Sanctuary. She plays a huge role in the choir and describes how the project has given her the chance to discover her hidden singing talent, strengthen her confidence, and widen her networks. Sabah Al Hassoun is a director of Citizen Songwriter and one of the Stories of Sanctuary Tour Coordinators.



Director and Music Facilitator

Alexandra Summerson is a singer/songwriter and performer. She trained as a music and performance facilitator at Canterbury Christ Church University, during her time there she led a choir that performed all over Canterbury and she helped multiple performance related groups put shows together. Alex has worked with many community groups from being a teenager. These include helping to provide support and respite for children and young people with physical disabilities and special educational needs, working with a local amateur dramatic group and currently helping to facilitate a local community choir. Alex is a strong believer in the positive benefits of singing and performance for mental health and hopes to advance her education by training as a music therapist in the future. Alex is incredibly excited to be a part of the Citizen Songwriters team and to help spread the joy of music making and song writing across the region.




Stacey was born in County Durham and now lives with her husband and children in the village where she grew up. She is a Parish Councillor for Monk Hesleden Parish Council. Stacey is a qualified primary teacher with 13 years experience. She has worked as an Assistant Headteacher which involved developing policies, coaching and mentoring and delivering training.  Throughout her experiences, she has worked within schools, children's centres and nursery schools, however she is now the Company Secretary and workshop provider for ATOMS Education CIC. Stacey is passionate about working within the community to promote equality and diversity.  She strongly believes in equal opportunities and believes that the best way to achieve this is to work together through shared interests and hobbies.  Stacey founded a group called County Durham Fairness 4 All which works with community organisations to promote equality and celebrate the culture, religion and diversity within the community.  She supports local charities through fundraising and organising events.

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Graphic Designer

Emma is currently studying for a UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Newcastle College. She is passionate about design, film and visual communication and has worked on several projects in her local community, including a music video for the song ‘Let Us Be Together’ written by Sam Slatcher and Hasna Al Hassoun as part of Citizen Songwriters. When Emma’s not working or studying, she loves to play piano and take part in cultural activities.