Each year in June we participate in Refugee Week – a national festival that celebrates the contributions of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary – and it is enormous fun. Last summer you might have been lucky enough to get to the Barnfield Theatre and seen the humanitarian magician Jamie Jibberish talk about his work followed by thrilling sights and sounds of Shumba Arts African Dance Troupe. Or you might have dropped into the RAMM for a Syrian family workshop – or been to the Moving World film and quiz night at the Phoenix. Or any other of the exciting events held across the Devon – all celebrating the richness and vibrancy of our community.
This year the dates for the festival will be the 15th – 21st June. It has unfortunately been necessary to cancel or postpone this year’s live schedule but RSD is already closely involved with two exciting digital events. Firstly: refugees in Devon and their many supporters are being offered the chance to share their experiences in video, photos and stories as part of a UK-wide digital event. Online technology has been harnessed to tap into the experiences and emotions of refugees and their families who have made new homes in the county, together with the many volunteers and professionals who help them. Devon County Council and RSD have joined forces to give everyone involved an opportunity to contribute their thoughts, pictures and videos from their homes, using social media technology. Refugees who, like everyone else, are facing the impact of lockdown in Exeter and surrounding towns and villages, are invited to submit two-minute videos for distribution through the DCC and RSD website. Volunteers and professionals are also invited to share their thoughts on why they support the refugee programme in the county. Secondly: RSD Trustee Liz Oxburgh has created an online competition in which she hopes all our newsletter readers and their families will participate. Liz explains: “We would like everyone to create a picture, a poem or a piece of prose, on the theme of ‘imagine’, which is the theme of this year’s Refugee Week. Maybe you’ll imagine a future where we’ve found new ways to care for our planet, connect across borders or protect human life. Perhaps you’ll imagine what it’s like to leave your family behind, or what your home town might look like to someone walking its streets for the first time. Whatever you come up with…we’d like to see it.” Everyone can submit their efforts onto a website, where they can be seen by everyone and there will be prizes for the entries that are most ‘liked’, the most thought-provoking…and the funniest! Liz explains: “We are running this as a competition and there will be prizes, but mainly we want people to have fun and celebrate Refugee Week by helping us to create a wonderful collection of poetry, pictures and prose. Everyone can join in, there will be prizes for the children as well as the adults.” To join the competition, see the existing entries and submit your own please visit www.lizoxburgh.com .