15 / 06 / 21
by Nicholas McDonald
From June 14th to June 20th, Refugee Week is a celebrating and honouring refugees around the world – highlighting their struggles, recognising their courage and spreading awareness. This blog will explore the importance of honouring refugees in the UK, and highlight some of the refugee-based London Faith & Belief Community Awards winners.
Refugee Week begins on June 14th and ends on June 20th with World Refugee Day. This is a weeklong celebration and festival of refugees, both in the past and in present day, with the aim of honouring, reckoning and acknowledging those who have fled conflict in their homes, to find sanctuary and a better life. Through celebrating Refugee Week, those involved hope to bring awareness to the resilience of – and the contributions to the UK’s society, culture and arts by – displaced people across the country. Educational, artistic, cultural and sports programmes are used to allow communities to connect with refugees and people seeking sanctuary, creating stronger, more diverse and safer communities, that goes beyond labels. It is a week to shine a much-needed spotlight on the refugee and asylum seeker communities that exist all across the UK, and to bring awareness to the groups and organisations that work tirelessly to support displaced people.
One such organisation that provides invaluable work for refugees and migrants is Our Second Home, a London Faith & Belief Community Award winner from 2020. Based in Barnet, Our Second is a youth movement, based on Jewish Summer Camps, that works to empower refugees and displaced people to flourish and grow, using residential programming and leadership training. Beginning in 2018, Our Second was set up to fill in the lack of community support for young refugees across the UK, allowing them to build connections and support networks and making them feel at home. For their important and vital work, Our Second Home was awarded £500 in the Inspiring Youth category of the London Faith & Belief Community Awards.
We asked Amos Schonfield, Director of Our Second Home, a few questions on their work, it’s importance and why they enjoy what they do, below:
There exists countless other refugee-based and led organisations across the UK, that do the necessary tasks to support displaced individuals, communities and families, to make them feel safe, included, empowered and celebrated. These include many London Faith & Belief Community Award winners such as Babel’s Blessing (2020), Barnet Refugee Service (2019), Abraham’s Tent Project (2018), Jesuit Refugee Service (2018), Lewisham Churches Asylum Seekers Foodbank (2018), Alyth Refugee Drop-In (2017), Refugee Cricket Project (2017) and Streatham Drop-in Centre (2017).
As 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the UN’s Genea Refugee Convention of 1951, it is now more important than ever to honour and highlight those who have fled persecution and conflict in their countries of origin. In and ever changing and unstable world, it is vital that we recognise those who have fought strongly and resiliently to make a better life and safer home for themselves and their families. It is also important to spotlight the rich diversity that refugee communities bring to the UK, and celebrate their countless contributions to our nation’s society, culture, arts, sports, music and so much more. Events celebrating Refugee Week are being held up and down the country and online – so make sure to get involved.
Last week nominations were opened for 5th London Faith and Belief Community Awards. If you know of any unsung heroes that work to support and empower refugees and displaced people, you can nominate them here, and learn more about the awards here.