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Why Refugee Week Is Important

We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

Those the words uttered during the late Jo Cox during her maiden speech to parliament in June of 2015. Following her tragic death, it’s a phrase that’s come to define her and all that she stood for; unity in the face of division, hope in the face of hate.

It’s a mantra that Refugee Week – a UK festival that celebrates the important contribution of refugees all over the country – holds close. For this year’s run, the annual initiative is hosting of hundreds of arts, cultural and educational events in nationwide venues, from public squares to places of worship. The festival is a reminder of the beauty of multiculturalism, showcasing the wild possibilities that come with a diverse and eclectic society.

Featured acts include Liverpool-based Iranian rapper Farhood, the London Syrian Ensemble, “voice of the young Somali generation” Aar Maanta, poet and playwright Inua Ellams, author Gulwali Passarlay and world music collective Rafiki Jazz, as well as the world premiere of documentary Team Faiz.

As well as the aforementioned celebrations, Refugee Week 2017 is also partnering with the Great Get Together, a national celebration that runs from June 16 – 18 to host a number of joint events, such as Syrian Refugee Community Iftar (the breaking of the Ramadan daily fast), a Hull Gig in the Gardens, and a Raynes ‘Lark in the Park’.

Speaking about the collaboration, Brendan Cox, husband of Jo, said:

I am delighted that Refugee Week is partnering with The Great Get Together to make the weekend of 17 and 18 June a celebration of all we have in common in this country. The cause of refugees was close to Jo’s heart and the fact that we will be marking the first anniversary of her death just as Refugee Week 2017 begins brings added poignancy to events.

I know what a great job Refugee Week has done over the last two decades in highlighting the contribution of refugees to Britain. The values it promotes and the 2017 theme, Our Shared Future, chime completely with the message of The Great Together.

Refugees may come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences than their British friends and neighbours, but Britain is now their home and they recognise, more than anyone, that what we have common is much greater than that which divides us.”

He ain’t wrong, neither. Find more information about the festival here. Be kind to each other.


Words by Niall Flynn

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