“It is important to keep up the awareness about positive contributions made by asylum seekers and refugees and also about the situations they have come from and the reality of how they live here in UK. We are an area of high deprivation in Wakefield with active right wing groups and we constantly work to combat negative attitudes. Refugee Week allows agencies and volunteers to come together and highlight relevant issues.”
~ Ali Bulliven, Education Officer, Wakefield Cathedral
Refugee Week was established in 1998 as a direct reaction to the hostility that was reflected in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers. Refugee Week is an international programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. Refugee Week UK is the most established UK-wide initiative that attempts to counter this negative climate, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities. As such, it is designed to contribute to harder hitting advocacy work which organisations are engaged in throughout the year.
Refugee Week 2014
In the UK (excluding Scotland) this year’s focus was dedicated to refugee children and young people, highlighting the role they are (and will be) playing in shaping our shared future. Many of the refugees coming to the UK are children and young people, fleeing danger either on their own or with their families. It is thought that 50% of refugees across the world are children and young people.
Refugee Week UK wanted to continue to ensure that we raised awareness in the wider public of how refugees make significant positive contributions to the future of the UK, particularly as we currently witness a significant global refugee crisis that will need an international response to supporting refugees in host countries. We have enjoyed working with a group of inspirational young ambassadors to promote the positive contributions of young refugees to the UK. Our Young Ambassadors team comprised of young people ranging from 17 years old to 24 years old from across the UK, now living in: London, the East of England, the Midlands and the North West. They brought with them a whole host of extraordinary life experiences and personal histories. We wouldn’t have been able to develop and deliver the Refugee Week that we did without their insight, enthusiasm and hard work.
• Migrant Help joined the Refugee Week partnership
• Over 450 Refugee Week events took place this year across the UK (including Scotland’s programme – please see RWS’s independent report for full details)
• Approximately 105,000 people attended this Refugee Week activity
• Events were organised by over 350 individuals, groups and organisations – often working together in partnership in order to deliver strong regional activity
• Nearly 2,000 posters and 12,000 postcard flyers marking this year’s RW theme – ‘the positive contributions of refugee children and young people: our shared future’ – were distributed (for free!) to over 200 organisations & partners across the UK
• National media coverage was reported at over 5 million
• The Observer carried a story about YouGov poll findings on 2015’s first-time voters’ views of Britain’s tradition of providing refugees with a sanctuary
• The Metro published a two-page feature on Refugee Council’s Refugee Gift exhibition and highlighted Refugee Week with a quote from David Suchet (Poirot)
• Other articles that mentioned Refugee Week included: The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Guardian Teach Network
• Approximately 70% of visitors to the Refugee Week website were new audiences
• By the end of July 2014 Refugee Week UK had 1,790 supporters on Facebook & over over 5,000 Twitter followers
• Simple Acts supported Refugee Week partner The Children Society to campaign for asylum support for children and their families (a new early day motion) via their ‘Tell Your MP’ simple act (Simple Act # 24)
• We had a fantastic collection of welcome messages and photos sent in via the Refugee Week twitter and facebook accounts (Simple Act #19 : ‘Take a photo of you and your pro-refugee/ welcome banner’)
• The current number of submitted Simple Acts is 30,646 and it includes submissions by individual supporters as well as those carried out in Simple Acts workshops, schools assemblies and other various workshops. This year there were just over 3,000 submissions on the Simple Acts website which hundreds of children and young people engaged with in schools across the UK