City of Sanctuary groups across the country celebrated Refugee Week in style this year. Here is a brief round-up of just some of their activities.
Asylum Dialogues National Tour
Asylum Dialogues is a documentary play about real-life friendships between British people and people seeking sanctuary. It is performed by iceandfire theatre company’s outreach project Actors for Human Rights. The show toured seven cities that are part of the national City of Sanctuary movement during Refugee Week 2009: Swansea, Norwich, Oxford, Sheffield, Bristol, Leicester and London.
In 10 hours, during a single day, members of the London City of Sanctuary group cycled all over London to display their ‘Refugees Welcome Here’ banner at 50 iconic sites, as part of Refugee Week’s ‘Simple Acts’ campaign.
The group unfurled its banner at theatres, government departments, galleries, hotels, places of worship and tourist sites, from Chelsea Football Club in the West to Canary Wharf in the East, from Lords Cricket Ground in North London to the London Eye on the South Bank. See all photos here.
The action made the lead story on BBC London news on Saturday. The group also presented its first ‘London Citizens of Sanctuary’ awards at a performance of Asylum Dialogues at the New Players Theatre on Sunday 21st of June. The three recipients were actor Juliet Stevenson, campaigner Peter Tatchell, and MP Neil Gerrard.
These awards will be an annual event honouring individuals from all backgrounds, ranging from high profile people to ‘unsung heroes’. In future years, London City of Sanctuary will be inviting community groups from across the capital to forward nominations suggesting people they think deserve to be honoured as ‘London Citizens of Sanctuary’.
Swansa City of Sanctuary held a day-long festival of events on 13th June to mark the launch of Refugee Week Wales. They had a City of Sanctuary marquee at the National Waterfront Museum, including a photography and short story competition, which was moved to one of the museum galleries for the following fortnight.
There was also a drop-in workshop, building on preparatory work with local schools, for members of thepublic to build a ‘sanctuary’ from found materials, illustrated with drawings and written statements or wishes. The workshop was run by a local community artist with assistance from refugee facilitators.
Following a public meeting about the Swansea City of Sanctuary movement, the group held a ‘forum theatre’ event, based on workshops run by Fforwm Theatr Cymru throughout the previous week. The day culminated with a performance of Asylum Dialogues at Swansea Museum.
Watch a video of the event here.
Bradford City of Sanctuary hosted a ‘Sanctuary’ marquee at Bradford’s ‘Mela’ intercultural festival and an outdoor concert on 19th June in the City’s Centenary Square.
Nottingham City of Sanctuary held their first open day event for people to find out about the movement, with food and a performance of South African freedom songs by a local choir.
Plus many more public events in Sheffield, Bristol, Leicester, Coventry, and Oxford.