What is Refugee Week?
Refugee Week is an annual event that began in 1998, incorporating World Refugee Day (20th June) into a week-long programme of cultural and educational events that celebrate the contributions of refugees and asylum seekers. It was set up to counter media and social hostility against refugees, and foster understanding between communities. This year, Refugee Week is running from 17th-23rd June, and the theme is "You, me and those who come before" - a call to explore the lives of refugees and those who have welcomed them throughout the generations.
Since the crisis in Syria, many Syrian refugees have settled in Oxford as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. There are several Oxford-based organisations that work with refugees and asylum seekers, including Refugee Resource, Asylum Welcome, Open Door Oxford, Oxford City of Sanctuary, and KAMA Oxford. In addition to helping children, families and individual adults settle in the country, these organisations offer many other forms of support, including providing legal advice and English lessons, counselling people through trauma recovery, or setting up social and support groups. Refugee Resource has a Women's Group and a Men's Group, which offer a range of activities and opportunities to learn new skills and socialise, while KAMA Oxford runs regular workshops and classes taught by refugees.
What's happening during Refugee Week?
Many of the local organisations helping refugees run fundraising activities during Refugee Week. Refugee Resource has partnered with several of the fantastic restaurants along Cowley Road, including Le Kesh, Cafe Tarifa, Majliss, Malikas, Kadai & Naan, Za'atar Bake, Aleppo's Falafel, G&D's, Yeti and Millefeuille. The restaurants will be giving diners the opportunity to donate to Refugee Resource, by adding to their bill, giving a separate donation, or putting some change in the collection tin - so why not treat yourself to a meal out for a good cause?
If you're a film fan, then head along to Makespace on 19th June for Female Voice, a collection of six short films by female filmmakers focusing on the lives of refugees displaced by the Syrian Civil War. Art lovers can visit the ongoing exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Lande: The Calais 'Jungle' and Beyond. Brickwork Lizards + Ethno England Band are performing at Tap Social on 19th June, while on the 20th, Asylum Welcome are hosting their event Weaving Networks of Support, featuring many great musical performers. On 26th June, The Beatroots are performing at The Furry Mic to raise money for Refugee Resource.