COVENTRY will celebrate the contribution, creativity and resilience of refugees that now call the city home during a week-long festival this month.
Art exhibitions, live music, a football tournament and two community parties will be just some of the ways that the city rewards its refugee and migrant population.
Coventry’s celebrations are part of the nationwide Refugee Week which marks its 20th anniversary this year.
More than 500 events around the UK are planned between June 18 and June 24 to bring together people from different communities, raise awareness of why people seek sanctuary and recognise the welcome Britain has offered to those seeking safety.
Laura McMillan, director of operations and legacy at the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “For two decades, the festival has brought together people of all backgrounds to celebrate both the contributions of refugees and also the welcome they have received from the people of Coventry.
“Coventry is a city of welcome, a city of diversity and is a city of peace and reconciliation and, throughout the bid process, we heard so many stories of people who said Coventry had given them a life they could never have dreamed of.”
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) will be opening the week’s celebrations with Penny Appeal, a charity which transforms lives and empowers communities around the world.
The two organisations, alongside Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), will be co-hosting an Eid celebration meal at FarGo Village in the Market Hall which is open to all and will include entertainment and a free meal for everyone.
Later in the week CRMC will be holding their annual event ‘Coventry Welcomes, Party in the Park’ on Saturday, June 23, at Primrose Hill Park.
PYF, which regularly supports newly arrived young people across Coventry, will be hosting several events from FarGo Village throughout the week. They include an indoor football tournament, the ‘Coventry Nations Cup’, complete with 70 teams (both UK and internationally born players), trophies and even live sports commentators.
An art installation – ‘Fusion’ – is open throughout the week, displaying both migrant and host art works. It has been curated in partnership with Laura Nyahuye of Maokwo and will have a special presentation viewing on Wednesday, June 20, with additional live performances.
The event will be headlined by Tayyibah Mota with her photography collection and Harpreet Dawett with images from her Grime magazine ‘HKD Magazine’. Both are PYF young talents.
The newly-launched MiFriendly Cities project will also be at FarGo with their Drop-in Café at Backhaus on Thursday, June 21. The £3.5m initiative is offering refugees and migrants opportunities to learn new skills, such as digital fabrication, journalism and DIY.
The event will provide an opportunity for the community to meet the team from some of its 11 partner organisations, including Coventry City Council and Coventry University, and find out how to get involved.
The weeklong festivities will be concluded on Sunday, June 24, with a special ‘Changing Trax Open Mic – world music edition’, inviting a whole range of musicians into one space to perform and collaborate on their music styles.
For more information on the whole of Coventry Refugee Week, go to http://refugeeweek.org.uk/