women walk past a DJ smiling and dancing

Southbank Centre Refugee Week DJ Set (c) Marcia Chandra

Thousands of people came together in person and online for Refugee Week 2021 in an inspiring demonstration of this year’s theme, We Cannot Walk Alone.

Undeterred by the challenges of ongoing Covid restrictions and in the face of increasing threats to the rights of people seeking safety, groups and organisations across the UK held – at the latest count! – over 500 events and activities, including in every region of England, in Wales, in Northern Ireland and for Refugee Festival Scotland.

Refugee Week continued to grow as an international movement, with Refugee Week Australia joined by events in Lebanon, the USA and across Europe.

Through happenings spanning arts, culture, education and at community gatherings, people from all walks of life celebrated welcome, made new connections and shared and listened to the voices and creative work of people seeking safety.

Here are just some of the organisations that took part:

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…and a small selection of the artists and speakers:

Artists word cloud

We’ll be sharing more about the events that took place in our Refugee Week 2021 report later in the year.

In the meantime, here is a small snapshot of some of the activity shared online during Refugee Week 2021.

In Norfolk, the build up to Refugee Week began at Norwich Castle, which was lit up with the faces of hundreds of local people, sharing the message that the city stands #togetherwithrefugees:

The castle was one of several buildings illuminated in orange to celebrate Refugee Week – others included Birmingham Central Library and Wainhouse Tower in Halifax.

As Refugee Week officially began on Monday 14 June, a feature in the Guardian showcased Refugee Week portraits shot by Misan Harriman, acclaimed photographer and new Chair of Southbank Centre.

Author Michael Rosen, model Ikram Abdi Omar, pilot and UNHCR Ambassador Maya Ghazal and Bishop Jonathan Clark were among the eight figures who shared their responses to the theme ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ for the series.

The portraits were shot at the V&A, where they were on display throughout Refugee Week:


Then we were off, with responses to the theme ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ shared in all kinds of spaces:






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A post shared by SBC Theatre (@sbc_theatre)




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A post shared by SunnyHill Primary (@sunnyhillprimary)


An amazing range of groups and organisations took part. There were artists, arts organisations and museums…






Faith groups…









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MPs and councillors…



Experts by experience…



Football clubs…



Book lovers…





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Food lovers..






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A post shared by Journeys Festival (@journeysfest)


…not to mention the actual walking!

Refugee Week joined forces with The Great Get Together to create The Great Walk Together, celebrating the message of MP Jo Cox that we have more in common than that which divides us, and honouring the journeys made by people seeking safety.

In streets, parks and even mountains across the country, people walked, ran and biked together:



Refugee Week in the Media


‘No human survives alone’ … Misan Harriman’s portraits for Refugee Week – in pictures, The Guardian

‘I fled machetes at age 12 but Patel’s plan means I couldn’t live in safety here’, The Mirror

‘I’m not dying without a fight’: Nigerian man who fled home because being gay is a crime, Refugee Week Ambassador Victor Iringere in The Metro

My home became a war zone overnight – my family were given 20 hours to flee to the UK, Refugee Week Ambassador Alma Aganovic in The Metro

Boris Johnson’s regressive policies are leaving refugee children vulnerable, Beth Gardiner-Smith in The Independent

A former unaccompanied child refugee talks about plans for child migrants in Dover to be ‘detained’, i news

UK must commit to resettling specific number of refugees after target scrapped, UN and campaigners warn, The Independent

Refugees are a gift, not a problem, Church Times

Refugee Week: five refugees reveal their journeys into the hospitality industry, The Caterer

Regional and Local

Hundreds of local faces to light up Norwich Castle to mark Refugee Week, Norwich Evening News

Kurdish singer finds ’emotional family’ in London refugee choir, Evening Standard

Refugee Week 2021: Activist who escaped Taliban assassination attempt urges others to be proud of their survival story, ITV News

Refugee Festival Scotland launches week of cultural events across Glasgow, Glasgow Live

Kent Fish & Chips Project at Turner Contemporary marks National Refugee Week, The Isle of Thanet News

A welcome in the hillsides for Syrian refugees, Tivy-Side Advertiser

Be kind during Refugee Week, Cornish & Devon Post

The incredible kindness on show in St Helens during Refugee Week, St Helens Star

Harrogate group to celebrate refugees contribution to British life in Refugee Week, Harrogate Advertiser

Refugee Week: Darlington support group voices concerns over immigration changes, Darlington and Stockton Times

Pupils get better understanding of refugees’ journey, Swindon Advertiser

St Michael’s CE Primary School children learn why people are forced to leave their homeland as they celebrate Refugee Week, The Bolton News

Solidarity for Refugee Week at St Paul’s Church in the heart of Bedford, Bedford Independent

Refugee Week: Wigan residents who fled Zimbabwe see their life stories turned into artwork, Wigan Today

Warwickshire residents make collective journey to support and mark Refugee Week, Leamington Observer

How Calderdale will be shining a light on Refugee Week, Halifax Courier

Cheshire West and Chester residents ‘walking together’ with those fleeing violence and persecution, In Your Area

Mafwa Theatre: Using theatre to bring diverse communities together in Leeds this Refugee Week, Yorkshire Evening Post

Two people who came to Bradford as refugees share their stories of ‘genocide’, ‘horror’ and ‘misconceptions’ amid Refugee Week 2021, Telegraph & Argus

Dorking Waste Collection Team Celebrates Refugee Week, resource

Croydon community groups join in support of Refugee Week 2021, In Your Area


Join the Movement


Refugee Week is over for another year, but the movement for a kinder, fairer world continues all year round.

From volunteering to campaigning, here are some ideas for how you can stay involved.

Now more than ever – let’s keep walking together.

Thank you

Refugee Week is a partnership project coordinated by Counterpoints Arts.

A huge thank you to all our national partners, who make Refugee Week possible, and to the hundreds of organisations, groups and individuals whose passion and hard work have created this incredible movement.