Celebrating Refugee Week

The Sing For Freedom Choir on stage

Refugee Week, which takes place annually in June, is an opportunity to raise awareness, promote understanding, and celebrate the contributions of refugees and migrants to our communities. This year, the council organised two events: a job support event and a community celebration. We find out how the week brought people together and offered valuable support for Islington refugees and migrants

“Above all, Refugee Week is about recognising refugees’ and migrants’ contributions to the NHS, businesses, education, art, music and sports,” says Mebrahtu, coordinator of Islington Refugee and Migrant Forum. “It provides a platform to promote equality, partnerships and community” – which, importantly, helps to “address negative stereotypes, prejudice, and hate against refugees and migrants”. Islington’s community celebration event on 21 June did just that.

Elaha performing at the community celebration event

Hosted by the Islington Refugee and Migrant Forum and Islington Council, the event showcased the rich diversity and cultural heritage of our borough – the talents and resilience of individuals who have overcome adversity. The day saw beautiful performances from Elaha Soroor, Ukrainian dance ensemble Stefania and a film screening of Utopia, closing with magnificent singing from the Sing for Freedom Choir (main picture).

The refugee and migrant job support event, meanwhile, was all about empowering refugees and migrants, offering valuable resources and help finding employment opportunities.

People who have had to leave their home countries face unique challenges. Recognising this, the council collaborated with various local organisations, businesses, and job centres to offer guidance on everything from job searching to CV writing and interview skills, as well as opportunities for professional networking. “This event was so useful in my job search,” says attendee Liubomyra. “I managed to get two to three job contacts. The interpreter, Lida, was amazing and helped a lot with communication. Events like this unite people.”

Stefania performing at the community celebration event

Another attendee, Ramin, similarly felt the benefit. “I attended the job fair, and I was helped to create a LinkedIn profile,” he explains. “Since publishing my profile two weeks ago, I have been contacted by three employers who offered a face-to-face interview.”

Both events were a real team effort between council and community organisations, who are united in their commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in Islington. Together, we can help create a society that values and embraces individuals from diverse backgrounds, and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

If you’d like to support local refugees and migrants, you can volunteer with Voluntary Action Islington, donate to local initiatives through Islington Giving, or brush up on refugee and migrant issues in your local library.

Have a spare room or a second home that could accommodate refugees? Get in touch with the council at resettlement@islington.gov.uk

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