Celebrating “Our Home” this Refugee Week

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Refugee Week UK is a partnership project coordinated by Counterpoints Arts, whose Senior Producer Dijana Rakovic participated in the second ever Creative Climate Leadership programme, in Slovenia in 2017. Read on for ideas of how the cultural sector can get involved in supporting Refugee Week this year.

Refugee Week (17th – 23rd June) is the world’s largest arts & culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Established in 1998 in the UK, the annual festival aligns with World Refugee Day, celebrated globally on June 20th.

Over the last 26 years, Refugee Week has grown substantially with supporters all over the world. 2023 marked the biggest Refugee Week so far with almost 10,000 events and 1.1M people across the UK taking part. Globally, we reached 56.7M via social media and in total, 17 countries took part in the festival.

Theme: Our Home

Everyone is invited to celebrate what “Our Home” means to them – from the places we gather to share meals to our collective home, planet earth.

Home can be a place of refuge, a feeling or a state of mind. It can be found in smells, tastes and sounds. From the clothes we wear to the words we grew up with. It’s in food, music and arts. It’s in our cultures and in our landscapes.

For so many of us who have to leave our countries and rebuild our lives, home can be more than one place and finding it can be a journey. Sometimes we can find home in a single person. Other times it’s in a whole community. And often, it’s in a single gesture of care and welcome.

Our home is also global. We are interconnected; we share the earth’s resources, climate and its challenges. As we speak, millions of people are being displaced from their homes because of the climate crisis. But, exchanging knowledge, both new and traditional, can help us in practical ways to build hope for the future.

“Refugee Week is such an important time of the year when tens of thousands of us come together in community, in celebration and in solidarity. This year’s theme “Our Home” speaks to the idea of home at so many levels. At the global level it speaks to our interconnectedness, how we all ultimately share one home. Across the country and around the world we are seeing how Refugee Week can act as a catalyst that creates the conditions to have better and more nuanced conversations around the intersection of climate justice and forced displacement. A conversation that, sadly, from what we see in the news can become quite toxic on all sides of the political spectrum. We see migration being used to scaremonger countries into taking climate action with that only leading to, for example, more border violence and higher spending on defence. Refugee Week creates a framework that invites us to gather, have conversations and explore intersections across our movements and experiences that enable us to make links between war, conflict, climate, poverty, displacement and migration. Together we can strengthen our movements as we work towards a shared vision of a more equitable, peaceful and just future for all.”

– Lara Deffense, Refugee Week UK Coordinator

Simple Acts

This Refugee Week, we encourage everyone to take part in Simple Acts to stand in solidarity with refugees. One of this year’s Simple Acts is “Care for Our Home” all about small actions we can all do to care for our shared home. No act is too small, no effort insignificant; each act is a testament to our love for our home and our unwavering hope for a better tomorrow.

Together we can sow seeds of change. Caring for our global home isn’t just about protecting the environment – it’s about nurturing our interconnected community and ensuring a sustainable future for all.

Here are some ideas to take part:

  1. Spend Time in Nature: Whatever we’ve been through, nature can calm and ground us, and help us believe that new beginnings are possible. Reconnecting with the earth can also help us remember our place in the natural world, rediscovering that we are part of nature, and it is part of us. Spending time in natural settings like parks, beaches, forests, or mountains can help us develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world. Take time to notice the beauty around you and reflect on how everything is interconnected. Focus on the sensations of being outdoors, like the feel of the wind, the sound of the birds, or the warmth of the sun.
  2. Discover an activist or movements: People in the majority world are most affected by climate change, and industrialised societies have much to learn from indigenous cultures about sustainable ways of living. Find out about a climate activist, platform or movement you didn’t know about before: Mikaela Loach, The Climate Propagandist, Celine Semaan, Slow Factory, Future Earth Foundation, Peaks of Colour, Intersectional Environmentalist, Zahra Biabani and more!
  3. Take Action: Get involved with local, national or international environmental organisations and advocate for issues like climate justice, climate displacement, wildlife conservation, and more. Whether it’s deepening our understanding of climate justice and displacement, taking part in a clean-up event, advocating for policy change, or spreading awareness, all of our actions make a difference.

There are also some brilliant events happening with a focus on our planet and climate change during Refugee Week:

Panel 1: The Ecosystem – Setting the stage, Unbound Philanthropy will share their newly commissioned report.

Panel 2: How We Talk About Climate and Migration – This panel delves into the narratives shaping climate and migration, exploring strategic communication practices and strategies to dismantle toxic narratives.

Panel 3: The Storytellers: Art and Climate Justice – Focusing on the arts, this session spotlights artists committed to storytelling and socially engaged methodologies, engaging themes of decolonization, intersectionality and community collaboration.

  • ‘Climate Changed My Home’, a powerful photography exhibition launched by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). This free open-air exhibition showcases photos and stories from people across the world whose lives are affected by the increasingly devastating impacts of the climate crisis. ‘Climate Changed My Home’ will be on display at London Bridge City, near Tower Bridge, during Refugee Week until 30th June. It elevates the stories of people bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, from displaced families in East Africa struggling with the impacts of drought, to communities in Pakistan whose homes have been destroyed by floods. It will also showcase some of the adaptive and innovative IRC climate solutions already supporting climate-vulnerable places globally.
  • An evening of shared art and celebration hosted by Amnesty International for Refugee Week. Facilitated by artist Tasnim Mahdy, this collaborative workshop will explore the themes of home, journeys and solidarity focussing on the overarching question: ‘What does home mean to you?’.
  • Gardens of Sanctuary growing network, many of which participating in Refugee Week
  • Power of Arrivals: The Making of Neighbourhoods – a family fun day full of celebrations to honour the legacy of Windrush communities and all arrivals at the Living Under One Sun Community Centre in North London. Join in for drumming workshops, live music, spoken word, art stalls, gardening activities and so much more.

We encourage you to find what’s near you via our official events calendar.

With climate justice and migration going hand in hand, we are so grateful for Julie’s Bicycle’s support and hope to connect with more aligned groups.

If you are interested in taking part in Refugee Week, check out our website for more information and helpful resources.

Please find the Refugee Week Social Media pack & public marketing folder here.

Together we can make our world a more sustainable and better place for all.

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