This week is focused on celebrating refugees, and understanding the journey they take.

It can often be an exploration of the issues, challenges, and contributions that refugees make as well as the support needed to stand together, learn, and understand their experiences. The theme for 2020 is ‘Imagine‘. We are in a place where imagination is so important. You might have heard the phrase ‘new normal’, we each have a role in shaping this and taking time to imagine what it could look like. What better time than now, to be thinking and acting in new ways to address the inequalities and challenges that people face every day. It’s time to imagine a better future, a more inclusive one, and there’s no time like the present.

It is World Refugee Day on the 20th June, an internationally recognised day that was created to raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world and to help support them. On the 20th, at Milton Keynes Rose the latest engraved pillar will be unveiled and read – ‘People from around the world have helped build this city. Milton Keynes welcomes refugees’.

“Refugee Week is a great chance to pause and celebrate the phenomenal contribution refugees have made to our country. We work with communities to challenge the negative stereotypes and reinforce the truth behind the myths. This year as we endure the effects of Covid-19 pandemic we want to reaffirm that we firmly stand in solidarity with Black communities around the worldWe abhor racism and discrimination of any type and are committed to tackling it. This week we take particular care to listen to the experiences of people who have come here to rebuild their lives, and who have not always faced a warm welcome. Milton Keynes has a proud history of being a place where newcomers settle and find a wonderful place to call ‘home’. At a time where parts of society are most vulnerable, it’s a time to come together and show kindness.” – Kerri Chana from British Red Cross speaking on refugee week.

According to the British Red Cross, there are more than 15 million refugees worldwide, mainly from war zones. A refugee is defined as someone who is in the UK legally and with the right to work, having satisfied the UK authorities that they would be at risk if returned to their home country. An asylum seeker is where people have sought protection as refugees but their claims have not yet been assessed (Refugees welcome Milton Keynes, Take a look at this article by Rose Haines, operations Manager for BRC ‘Refugee support service explains how it is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the region’ throughout Covid-19.

@RefugeeWeek talk so clearly about the search for solutions together, and the need for imagination at a time when solutions cannot be seen. You can take a look at some of their work here.

We especially liked their ‘Simple Acts’ – where they offer 8 different things you can do from home and can become everyday ways of learning and standing with refugees.

British Red Cross has also created activities to help children and young people develop their empathy and understanding. Looking at why Refugees flee their home and what it’s like to arrive somewhere new, away from their family. You can find them here, an addition to your home learning!

A few more organisations and resources…

Refugees Welcome MK – Work to relieve financial hardship, offer support, advice and translation services. As well as advance the education of the public about general issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum.

Sanctuary Hosting – Matches homeless refugees, people seeking asylum, and vulnerable migrants to people in the community with spare rooms and open hearts. You can look at their various volunteer roles and find out more. Operating across Thames Valley, Oxford, Buckingham, Berkshire.

The Learning Station Project – Welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to London, through offering free English Classes.

Migrateful – Empowering refugees and migrants through supporting them to run cookery classes.

ACH – is a social enterprise looking to help resettle refugees through social integration and labour markets. Supporting refugees find work and housing.

Moving Worlds have put together a special film programme for Refugee Week, 2020. They have put together a schedule (or you can watch as you like) where you can watch a diverse range of experiences and hear various voices throughout the week. An amazing resource that has come from the generosity of filmmakers and producers who have agreed to make their films available throughout the week.

Refugee Council for Australia – hosted this global storytelling night, where you hear from 4 individuals about their experiences relating to welcome and Imagination.