The Royal Festival Hall’s Level 2 foyer spaces are currently being refurbished, as we work to bring you a brand new cafe, bar, shop and Ticket Office. Find out more

We Are Here, Because You Were There

Sun 26 Jun 2022, 1.30pm
Part of Refugee Week
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Talks & debates
past event
past event
Black and white portrait of Afghan interpreter. Image is pixelated and blurred to allow for anonymity of the subject.
Andy Barnham

Get a glimpse of the experiences of Afghan former interpreters working for the British Army who have recently been resettled to the UK.

Their presence in Britain reflects the structural and lasting impact of Britain’s military intervention and migration policies.

How does it feel when you are an Afghan whose life has been entangled with British politics to still be regarded as a stranger in the UK? What are our moral obligations towards those who worked alongside us?

The event offers reflections by Afghan interpreters themselves, a veteran, a photographer and an academic expert, and is an invitation to engage with the people behind last summer's media headlines of the fall of Afghanistan.

Throughout the talk, you can also view artwork created as part of a collaboration between portrait photographer Andy Barnham and researcher Dr Sara de Jong, who document the experiences of Afghan interpreters through photography portraiture and in-depth interviews.

The portraits have been taken and edited in a manner to help anonymise the newly arrived Afghan interpreters who have been at risk and who have family in Afghanistan still under threat.

The individual portraits presented are a composite of up to a dozen frames which have each been completely blurred or pixelated and then merged to present a final portrait.

This process can also be seen as inflicting trauma on the portraits, in acknowledgment of events experienced when serving with the British Army and other NATO forces and escaping Afghanistan.

The portraits are combined with quotes from the photographed Afghan interpreters, capturing their motivations, fears, losses and hopes.

Need to know

Age recommendation

For ages 16+

Dates & times

Sun 26 Jun 2022, 1.30pm
Approximate run time: 1 hour.
Run times may vary by up to 20 minutes as they can be affected by last-minute programme changes, intervals and encores.


  • Standard entryFree, but ticketed

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Purcell Room

Our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff. 

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Open 90 minutes before an event until the end of the event. Closed at all other times.

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Our address is: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. The nearest tube and train stations within 5-7 minutes walk are Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines) and Embankment (District & Circle lines). There are also lots of bus routes with stops 2-5 minutes from our venues. For more information on getting here by road, rail or river.

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Pre-booking online is recommended. Check our website on the day for returns. There’s no need to print your e-ticket – just show your phone to our Visitor Assistants on entry.

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Frequently asked questions

Get an overview of the seating layout of the Purcell Room by downloading our seating plan.

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An accessible toilet is located in the foyer.

A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1 Royal Festival Hall next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

The facility includes a height-adjustable bench, tracking hoist system, a centrally-placed toilet, a height-adjustable basin and a shower. The phone outside the Changing Places toilet will connect you with a member of staff, who can provide you with the key. The facility is open daily 10am – 11pm.


The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room cloakroom is closed. You won’t be able to bring any bags over 40 x 25 x 25cm into the venues, so please leave large bags at home.

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Purcell Room is located in Queen Elizabeth Hall. For step-free access please use Royal Festival Hall JCB glass lift to Level 2 and enter via Riverside Terrace.

Talk to a member of staff at the auditorium entrance if you have a disability that means you can’t queue, or you need extra time to take your seat. They can arrange priority entry for you as soon as the doors open.

Please bear with us while we update our access map to reflect the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall’s Level 2 foyer spaces. The step-free routes remain the same.

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