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Supported by Save the Children

Welcoming signs

Design and display signs that show refugees and displaced children are welcome in your local community.

You will need

  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • A4 card
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Familiar symbols sheet
Familiar symbols
PDF – 686.1KB

Chat about challenges

  1. Everyone should get into pairs or groups of three.

  2. Each group should think about some of the challenges people face when they arrive in a new town where they don’t know anyone.
  1. Everyone should come back together and share some of their thoughts.
  2. Everyone should chat about what additional barriers that could make it even more difficult. For example, if people are disabled (do they have specific needs?), age (what about people who are very old or very young?), gender (would gender make it easier or harder?), and language (how would it feel to not understand?).
  3. Everyone should come back together and share some of their thoughts.
  4. The person leading the activity should explain that these are difficulties refugees and displaced children sometimes face after they’ve fled their homes. They often don’t know the country they’ve found themselves in, let alone speak the language.

Choose a welcome

  1. Everyone should split into groups of about four people.
  1. Each group should think about places that could give a friendly welcome to displaced children and refugees, for example, schools, shops, libraries, town halls, sports centres, or doctors’ surgeries. Who might be able to help them with any questions or problems they may have?
  2. Everyone should join together and share ideas. Someone should keep note of the most common ideas.
  3. Each group of four should think about how to share this information with someone new to the town – they can’t be there to meet them, and they can’t send them a map. How else could they show them all the great places offering help or a friendly reception?
  4. Everyone should join together and share ideas. The person leading the activity should note them all down – maybe they could use some later.
  5. If anyone mentions a sign, the person leading the activity should explain that Save the Children agrees. If no one mentions signs, the person leading the activity should introduce the idea and ask people if they think it could be useful, before explaining that Save the Children think so too.

What’s in a sign?

  1. Everyone should get back into their groups.
  2. The person leading the activity should give each group a copy of the ‘Familiar symbols’ sheet.
  3. Everyone should try to name as many symbols as they can – what do they mean or show? They could chat about their answers or jot them down.
  4. Everyone should come together and share their answers. Were some symbols trickier than others?
  5. Everyone should chat about what makes these symbols so effective. They could think about colour and shape, for example.

Make a sign

  1. Everyone should work together to design a ‘welcoming symbol’ that sends the message that a place is ready to give a friendly welcome (and a helping hand) to refugees and displaced children. They should work together to decide on the basics, for example, shapes and rough colours. They should avoid using any words, as the people using their sign may not speak their language.
  2. Everyone should make their own version of the sign using the pens and craft materials. They’ll all be a little bit different, but the basic symbols should be the same. People could add flourishes, for example, or vary the shade of colours slightly.

Display the signs

  1. Everyone should think back to the places they thought would offer a friendly welcome. Someone should jot down a list, and someone else should help them research. It may be that there’s more than one doctors’ surgery, for example.
  2. Everyone should work with an adult to get in touch with all of the places on their list. They may want to pop in to see people, or they could send an email or call them if they have their details. They should explain why they’ve created signs, and ask if the place will display one of the signs they’ve made.
  3. Everyone should thank anyone who’s happy to display their sign and explain how it could make a real difference. They should ask if they’re allowed to take a photo of the sign, and whether they mention the place in any media they create.
  4. It’s likely that, even if lots of places says yes, there won’t be a new home for everyone’s sign. People could vote for which signs they think should be stuck up around their community.
  5. Everyone should think of a use for the signs that won’t be displayed. Could they take them home and ask someone to display them at work? Perhaps they could take them to school and ask to display them there?
  6. Everyone should share their successes, for example, on social media or through local newspapers. They should make sure that they have permission to use any photos or name any businesses or services.

This activity helps contribute towards some of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more about the SDGs, and how Scouts across the world are getting involved.


This activity was about helping your community to welcome new members. What were people expecting to happen when they talked to people? Did anyone’s reactions surprise them? What stands in the way of accepting and welcoming difference? Sharing signs and information is one way people can encourage positive feelings for people who are viewed as being ‘outside’ the local community. What else can people do to encourage positive feelings and help refugees and displaced children?

This activity also helped people to communicate. What was it like to try and communicate through a sign? Was it easier or trickier than using words? Did people find it easy to have conversations with business and service owners? Did they understand their points of view? How else could people share helpful information with refugees and displaced children?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Hiking and walking

Follow the guidance for activities in Terrain Zero, or the guidance from the adventure page.

Road safety

Manage groups carefully when near or on roads. Consider adult supervision and additional equipment (such as lights and high visibility clothing) in your risk assessment.