14th-20th June 2021 is Refugee Week, an opportunity to celebrate and stand up for the people in our communities who are seeking sanctuary, which culminates in World Refugee Day on 20th. This year's theme is 'We Cannot Walk Alone', and Oxfordshire's charities and arts organisations have responded with a variety of events to get involved with. The following events are all free to attend (apart from the raffle!) although donations to these groups' important work is very much encouraged!
The East Oxford-based charity provides practical and emotional support, advice, and advocacy to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants in Oxfordshire. You can find out more about what they do, and support them, at a number of events throughout the week:
Stand With Refugees - Market Stalls
The AW team will be raising awareness and funds through selling a selection of donated books and handmade crafts, at a stall during Gloucester Green Market on Wednesday 16th June and Headington Market on Saturday 19th June.
Oxford Has A Heart
In response to the government's 'New Plan For Immigration' which has been condemned as harmful by human rights organisations, AW are encouraging people to display orange hearts in solidarity, to show that Oxford doesn't share this sentiment and that we are a welcoming, inclusive city.
Another Oxford-based charity whose aims include relieving distress among vulnerable migrants by providing psychological, social, and practical support such as counselling and mentoring. They have collaborated with photographer Philippa James for We Cannot Walk Alone, a powerful exhibition featuring portraits and stories from women who have been displaced from their home countries, opening at The Old Fire Station on 16th June.
Sanctuary Hosting supports refugees and vulnerable migrants throughout the Thames Valley region by matching them with people in the community with spare rooms, to provide rent-free accommodation while they find options for independent living. On 16th June at 6pm, join them for a Music Evening on Zoom where some of the people they have helped will share songs and stories of what music means to them, with a view to creating connections across communities through a shared love of music.
Sanctuary Hosting have more opportunities to hear about the experiences of refugees, through live Zoom Q&As; with Ahmad Jaber on 15th June at 6pm on the subject of being a stateless Kuwaiti Bidoon, and with Bharti Dhir about her new book, Worth, on 17th June at 6pm. (The three links in this section are direct to the Zoom meetings - Asylum Welcome have listed some additional details on their RW page)
Oxfordshire-based Arts Ambassador Rana Ibrahim will lead a collage workshop where participants can learn how to make their own paper puppets. The workshop is linked to the Little Amal project, where a 3.5-metre living artwork of a young Syrian refugee child will walk across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the UK throughout 2021, to focus attention on the urgent needs of young refugees.
Mansfield and Somerville Colleges will host their annual joint 'Voices For Sanctuary' event online, with special guest speakers Reverend Inderjit Bhogal, founder of Cities of Sanctuary UK, and Afraa Hashem, of Action for Sama, who featured in the award-winning documentary For Sama.
The Oxford-based campaign raises money for Safe Passage UK through their virtual charity shop. For Refugee Week, they have collaborated with a dazzling variety of local businesses to run a huge 'Raffle 4 Change', where you can win goodies like meals out from the likes of Quod, Branca and Arbequina.
Host Your Own Event
Have you been inspired to create your own Refugee Week event? Oxford City of Sanctuary are supporting Refugee Week by offering access to their Eventbrite and Zoom accounts to allow groups and projects supporting refugees to reach more people.