Hundreds gather as Lancaster celebrates Refugee Week

Some of the refugees put on a show as part of the celebrations.
Some of the refugees put on a show as part of the celebrations.

Hundreds of people gathered at King’s Community Church in Lancaster to celebrate Refugee Week on Saturday.

Gisela Renolds, Global Link’s manager, said: “Refugee Week is a time to celebrate the contributions refugees over hundreds of years have made to UK society and economy, from the designer of the Mini and Marks & Spencer’s to some of the comedians on our TVs today.”

Refugee Bashar with the Refugee Week banner.

Refugee Bashar with the Refugee Week banner.

With funding from the Local Integration Fund and the Dukes Theatre, Global Link organised a day involving food, storytelling, comedy, digital stories, music, drumming and dance. Asylum seeker and refugee volunteer cooks provided food from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Kurdistan, Nigeria and Syria. Emmanuel Bhajiji, a storyteller from Rwanda, described his first experiences of snow, and More Music led a drumming workshop much enjoyed by the children.

The Sewing Circle produced a banner for the event, and local refugees and asylum seekers performed with a music teacher who has been teaching them violin.

The highlight of the day was a comedy conceived and performed by Ali Mujally, with actors fromseven different countries, most with no experience of performance.

Ali, from Yemen, was discovered at last year’s Refugee Week to have natural comedic performance talent, despite no history of theatre, and was commissioned by the Dukes Theatre to produce the show Dance With Me.

Asylum seeker Bayan (fourth from left) takes part in some traditional dancing at the Refugee Week event at King's Community Church.

Asylum seeker Bayan (fourth from left) takes part in some traditional dancing at the Refugee Week event at King's Community Church.

Bayan, an asylum seeker from Kurdish Iraq, said of the event, “It was a fantastic event, an opportunity for asylum seekers to share our culture, and celebrate with the local community.”

Elizabeth Roberts from City of Sanctuary said: “It was great to see refugees who came to Lancaster as asylum seekers, now visiting from Preston, where they are working, including for the NHS.”