The University is part of a group of organisations across Plymouth working together to mark national Refugee Week, and celebrate the contribution of displaced people to British society.
Running from Saturday 15 – Friday 21 June in the city, the Refugee Week programme includes opportunities for local people to learn more about those who have made the city their home, and chances for refugees themselves to get to know Plymouth and the opportunities available to them.
This year’s events have been organised by: Plymouth Hope, University of Plymouth, Calstock Outreach Group, Open Doors International Language School, Give Back, British Red Cross, Plymouth City of Sanctuary group, Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support (DCRS) and Students and Refugees Together (START), under the umbrella of Plymouth Refugees Communities Forum.
Launching this year’s Refugee Week events in Plymouth, on Saturday 15 June is the 10th Plymouth Hope Festival at Brickfields Sports Centre. A free, family-friendly fun day and multi-sports tournament, Hope offers activities and entertainment for all ages to celebrate communities, cultures and diversity.
The University is running a drop-in information day on Tuesday 18 June with talks and information on studying, jobs and starting a business from 10.30am – 4.30pm. On offer will be help around CV writing and job applications, advice and support on gaining qualifications and attending University, and tours of the campus.
Thursday 20 June sees the opening night of a new exhibition - Creative Recovery: Refugees Mapping Memories at UNDER, part of KARST gallery in Stonehouse. The culmination of a 9-month project led by Dr Sana Murrani from the University, the event presents participants’ creative work to remember and map their homes, and includes an Open Conversation with them and an audience.
On Wednesday 19 June, the ‘City of Sanctuary’ pledge will be signed by Councillor Chris Penberthy, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Cooperative Development. This will be the city’s commitment to recognise the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers, build relationships with them and include them in activities, and local organisations will also be invited to sign the pledge.
Other highlights include an organised trip to Calstock for the village’s annual fun day, and the final event of the week, an opportunity to enjoy a healthy Halal meal at the Cultural Kitchen, organised by START. Elsewhere during the week there are film screenings and board games, open days hosted by organisations that help displaced people like British Red Cross and DCRS, and walks in Plymouth and its surroundings.
David Feindouno is the founder of Plymouth Hope and the Plymouth Hope Festival, and Area Refugee Services Manager at the British Red Cross. He said:
“Behind the word refugee are individuals and people whose lives have taken a sudden and unexpected turn and who were forced to seek sanctuary. Plymouth has welcomed a very small number. Refugee Week is a unique opportunity for us to celebrate the skills and talents they have brought and contributed to the UK.
“The Plymouth Hope Festival, which also launches the week in Plymouth, aims to build bridges between the host community and newcomers as we welcome hundreds of people. Togetherness and strong cohesion in our communities make them a better place for everyone. We are joined by many organisations to make this happen.”
Rosie Brennan, Associate Professor in Law at the University helped organise the week’s events. She said:
“Refugee Week celebrates the varied skills and experience that people forced to seek safety bring to the UK. In Plymouth the week is packed with fantastic events where people can come together and learn from each other.
“The University is running an open day with lots of information on offer around employment, starting a business and studying in the UK as well as an exhibition space for some of the collaborative work happening in the city.”
University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor Andrew Grace added:
“Refugee Week 2019 is an amazing opportunity for our University community to celebrate the contribution of refugees to our society. As a civic university at the heart of our local community, I am incredibly proud to see the University engaging with our local refugee community in giving them the skills and knowledge to bring their expertise to the University through study or employment, as well as celebrating all they have brought with them to enrich our lives.”Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing and Cooperative Development for Plymouth City Council, said:
“We are delighted to once again celebrate Refugee Week in Plymouth. I’m really looking forward to launching City of Sanctuary, and hope lots of other local people will also get involved with some of the fantastic activities taking place.
“Plymouth has always been, and continues to grow its reputation as a welcoming city. As the diversity of our local population changes we all need to learn more about each other, celebrate our shared values and respect our differences. I would like to thank members of our refugee communities together with the organisations that support them for all of the work that they have done in planning for Refugee Week in Plymouth.”
Find out more about Plymouth City of Sanctuary https://plymouth.cityofsanctuary.org/.