Yesterday (23 June) marked the end of Refugee Week in the UK. The festival sees a variety of events take place celebrating different cultures and the contributions that refugees make to British life.
The week was launched in 1998, in response to media hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers.
Throughout the week, a huge programme of art and educational events take place, to bring different cultures together and start conversations within different communities.
As part of Refugee Week, the organisation has come up with seven simple acts we can all do.
Though Refugee Week has come to an end, it’s never too late to take part in one of these seven acts.
SHARE A STORY
This act invites you to speak with a refugee, listen to their story and try to put yourself in their shoes. It can be incredibly hard to imagine the experiences of refugees through stories on the news or on social media.
Actually speaking to someone and really listening to what they’ve been through is a great way of building a connection and understanding that humans are all very similar, regardless of where we were born.
— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) May 26, 2019
FIND OUT WHO YOU REALLY ARE
This one is simple and something you can do relatively easily: do some digging to find out a bit more about your family tree.
Speak to your parents and find out what they know: they might have a family tree you can look at and learn more about your family’s origins.
You never know what you might discover.
SHARE A DISH
You may not be much of a chef but chances are you’re able to buy a can of Irn-Bru or a packet of shortbread. Food is a great way of meeting new people and starting conversations.
Why not organise an event at school, college or university, inviting people to bring traditional dishes from their culture, or even just a meal they love to eat? It’s a great way of getting to know people and learning about different cultures.
There are an estimated 118,995 refugees living in the UK.
— British Red Cross (@BritishRedCross) June 17, 2019
FEEL THE BEAT
Refugee Week has compiled a playlist of music created by refugee artists or inspired by the topic of displaced people.
Did you know that Freddie Mercury, Rita Ora, MIKA and M.I.A are all refugees?
See – chances are you’re already listening to music by refugees without even realising.
So, get the playlist downloaded and you might learn something you didn’t know before.
FIND ONE FACT
This year, Refugee Week is asking people to learn a new fact about refugees that they didn’t know before: last year it came to light that the UK is the only European country where refugees can be kept in detention for an unlimited amount of time.
— UNHCR United Kingdom (@UNHCRUK) June 23, 2019
Refugees have existed throughout history: during the First and Second World Wars, during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s and current crises in Syria and at the US border.
Do some investigating and see what you can learn about refugee crises past and present.
WRITE A POEM
If you’re gifted with writing, why not write a poem to share on the subject of refugees? Art is one of the many things that is great at bringing people together, as art transcends language.
Refugee Week has a list of different prompts to inspire creativity: head to the website to get started.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
If learning about Refugee Week has inspired you to get more involved with refugee issues and activism, there are plenty of ways to do so.
Keep up to date on the issues affecting refugees, write to your local councillors, MSPs and MPs to urge them to make changes, attend protests in support of refugee issues and use social media to speak out and educate others about what you have learned.
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It’s World Refugee Day. How strange that we need a day each year to remember that 70 million people are currently displaced from their homes. Forced to live in strange lands that they will never get close to calling their own. I am torn today between the sadness of so many still forced from their homes and the complete joy of seeing the voices of my recently arrived brothers taking centre stage in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery& Museum. The platform is too rarely given to those who most require it and their photo voice exhibition that launched today, attempts to do just that. So this World Refugee Day we have three asks of you; 1. Listen. And ask other people to listen too. Start by sharing this post or visiting the Kelvingrove to see Claiming Back The Narrative: A Photo Voice Exhibition. . 2. Write a letter to welcome someone recently arrived. It will not only bring the recipient a joy that I hope none of us ever have to experience, but it will also connect you with the individual in a way that only writing can. . 3. Engage with Refugee Festival Scotland. For the next 10 days you are spoiled for choice of amazing events that all offer you the perfect place to listen. A difference perspective awaits, for you and whoever else you choose to share this with. . . . #worldrefugeeday #refuweegee #unheardvoices #refugeefestscot #kelvingrovemuseum #getinvolved #makeadifference #eyesopen #syria #sudan #iraq #iran
The issues affecting refugees don’t stop just because Refugee Week has come to an end, so it’s important that support doesn’t stop either.
To find out more about how you can support refugees in Scotland in the UK, visit the Refugee Week website.