25th Jun, 2022

LOOK: More than 370 people attended national refugee conference at Coventry Cathedral

Editorial Correspondent 18th Feb, 2019 Updated: 18th Feb, 2019

MORE than 370 people attended a national conference at Coventry Cathedral celebrating the contributions of refugees.

Last Monday (February 11), Coventry became the first city outside of London to host the Refugee Week Conference.

It is intended to challenge negative perceptions of refugees and prepare for Refugee Week in June.

The all-day event featured a range of speakers, workshops and performances from musicians and comedians.

Young people from across Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) organised the event, including hosting and running interactive activities, while leading on social media output.

The volunteers opened the conference with a welcome speech presented in eight different languages – reflecting the international nature of the event.

A display of artworks, curated by Laura Nyahuye, welcomed delegates to Coventry Cathedral, who were then invited to take part in interactive activities created by PYF’s young volunteers before proceedings began.

Development manager at PYF Susie Murphy said: “The conference was a fantastic success and having the conference held in Coventry shows the growing reputation the city has in the field of social inclusion.

“The young people from our organisation wanted to challenge the narrative of refugees being presented by adults and also change the adult interpretation of what a conference should look like by taking over key elements of the day, usually led by adults.

“We were proud to host this national event as a city which celebrates its diversity, its multi-agency partnerships, and its leaders of the future.”

Counterpoints Arts coordinates the national Refugee Week celebrations every June, looking at the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.

Refugee Week UK coordinator at Counterpoints Arts Emily Churchill Zaraa said: “It was our first time ever holding the national Refugee Week Conference outside London and the support from Coventry organisations was just brilliant.

“It was great to see people travelling to Coventry from across the country to share ways to make their towns and communities more welcoming places, and make sure the voices of displaced people are heard.

“Refugee Week this year in Coventry promises to be the biggest and best yet, and we’re looking forward to more exciting diverse arts and culture activities as 2021 approaches.”

Coventry City of Culture Trust creative director Chenine Bhathena said: “Our city has been welcoming migrating and refugee communities for hundreds of years and it really is what makes our city so rich. They have made an outstanding contribution to our culture, our industry and our identity.”

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