What a wonderful Refugee Week we had! An astonishing variety of events took place all over the country.
On Saturday we kicked off with the Leeds Refugee World Cup! Now in its sixth year, this event brings together local Leeds based refugee communities to celebrate diversity through football. The event included activities for children with a bouncy castle and face painting, along with food stalls selling foods from around the world and a zumba class to work it all off afterwards!
Sixteen teams turned out for a successful day of football culminating with a victory for the Kurdish team Baban FC, who won the World Cup, beating Iranian side Caspian FC 4-3 on penalties.
Meanwhile in Wakefield six teams competed in the first Refugee Week football event, which was won by Banarama who beat Africa United in the Final 2-0.
On Sunday we were part of the Celebrating Sanctuary Festival on London’s South Bank, where we showcased the amazing craft work of our Therapeutic Casework Unit Creative Focus Group, along with the work of artist Cedoux, a refugee. Although smaller than in previous years the festival included musical performances and panel discussions in Natasha Reid’s spectacular Embassy for Refugees. This event aims to raise awareness of the contribution of refugees in the UK and was well attended this year.
On Monday our very own long serving volunteer Jade Amoli-Jackson launched her powerful new book Moving a Country, a selection of poetry and prose telling her personal journey of life in Uganda and then as a refugee in the UK. Born in northern Uganda, Jade studied journalism and then worked as a sports reporter on Ugandan television/radio, national and local papers. After her husband, sister and father were killed Jade escaped from military captivity and sought refuge in England in July 2001. Her children had been taken from her and are still missing in Uganda. Jade’s work is highly acclaimed and deeply moving, at times humorous and full of personality. You can buy the book and read reviews online here.
On Wednesday we held a RefuTEA in our Head office in Stratford. We shared tea and cakes and raised money for the Refugee Council hardship fund. Maurice Wren, our CEO, spoke about the importance of Refugee Week.
Later the same day, our Children’s Section team of young refugee cricketers played a match against the Free Foresters. These young cricketers attend the Refugee Cricket Project (RCP) which is jointly run by the Refugee Council Children’s Section and Cricket for Change. This time we lost our match! So we look forward to beating the team next year!
On Thursday we partnered with Bridge & Tunnel Productions to help promote its screening of ‘I am Nasrine’ at the Ritzy cinema. The film was followed by Q&A with the male lead in the film actor Shiraz Haq and Refugee Council CEO Maurice Wren. ‘I am Nasrine’ tells the story of a teenage girl who is arrested for riding pillion on a boy’s motorcycle, and is subsequently sexually assaulted in prison. She then flees to north-east England with her brother, where she finds their immigrant lifestyle far harsher than the relatively charmed middle-class existence they had enjoyed in Tehran.
The film really raises awareness of the reasons people flee and the conditions they live in and realities they face. Due to the popularity of this screening we are partnering again for a showing of I am Nasrine at Stratford East Picture House on 4 July.
On Friday we screened the brilliant Moving to Mars, a film about Gateway clients in Sheffield. This screening was hosted by the Warren Youth Centre and was aimed at 16-25 year olds.
On Saturday 22 June we held a RefuTEA party in Hull! Organised in conjunction with Hull City Council, Humberside Police, ARKH, British Red Cross, H-CAS and several local Refugee Community Organisations at St Stephens shopping centre. Local performers from Congo, Sierra Leone, China and Kurdistan entertained with cultural music and dance.
It was a successful event at one of the busiest places in Hull, a brilliant opportunity to link refugees, refugee organisations and the general public and celebrate refugee contributions in the UK.
One of the shop owners said it was a great event with lovely music and wished it could happen more often. Several shoppers shared they were pleasantly surprised by the multi cultural performances and were genuinely interested in the background of refugees, why they ended up in Hull and how they could get involved. People were surprised that it was refugees themselves performing:
“They seem so happy and they are so good!“
Finally on Sunday we finished off our week in Barnet at Under Hill Stadium where over 3,500 came out to watch Mo Farah’s the Arsenal legends take on Fabrice Muamba’s World Refugee IDP XI for a friendly match hosted by former England captain Tony Adams. Supporters were good natured and appreciative and the game drew 1-1. We are grateful to The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) for hosting the event and making a generous donation to our work. Sports journalist (Arsenal fan and former Eastender) Tom Watt commented on the day:
“It is also for a fantastic cause, we have raised a few bob and perhaps more importantly raised the profile, refugee is a bit of a loaded word in this country for all sorts of reasons and I think events like today help people understand what the Refugee Council are all about. It was a double success.”
Watch a short clip of the days events below.