Different Pasts, Shared Future - Museums Mark Refugee Week 2006

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 16 June 2006
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Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of events celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK.

Under the banner ‘different pasts, shared future,’ Refugee Week runs from June 19 until June 25 2006 and is a UK-wide programme of events celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK that aims to encourage better understanding between communities.

Joan Ryan MP – the government’s Minister for Refugee Integration launched the week’s celebrations at an event on Thursday June 15 at the ICA in London. The launch also saw a performance by Zeela, a choir of Liberian refugees who were amongst the first arrivals in the UK under its Gateway Programme.

This year’s Refugee Week has received cross party support with all three major party leaders voicing strong support for the scheme.

“Like those from all continents to whom Britain has been a safe haven before and since, they have repaid our hospitality by enriching our culture, our society and country,” said the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

photo of an open suitace with paper boats inside

You can explore real and imagined stories of immigration at 19 Princelet Street for free during refugee week. © Joel Pike/19 Princelet Street.

“Britain and its people have a proud heritage of welcoming refugees,” added Mr Blair. “We must continue to do so. We must also provide them with the support they need to fulfil their potential and make their own full contribution to our society. I am delighted that we are again sponsoring Refugee Week and give it my full support.”

The week takes in festivals, screenings, debates, sporting events and more than a few museum and library events right across the UK.

In London the Museum of Immigration And Diversity at 19 Princlet Street is preparing to mark the start of Refugee Week by offering free entry to the public until June 25 2006.

The museum is a fitting place to contemplate the lot of refugees as it tells the stories of the many foreigners who arrived in Spitalfields over the centuries and helped to shape the area, and British society.

Exhibits include a display by refugee children entitled "Suitcases and Sanctuary" and work by contemporary artists in exile called "Leave to Remain".

a black and whiote image of man surrounded by a white border with written notes on it

Rebwar Saeed, one of the stories of immigration revealed at the Horniman Museum. Photography by Rhonda Klevansky

The Horniman museum in South London is also celebrating the week by hosting Fragments from Another Life, an exhibition dedicated to refugees living in London, running until June 25 2006.

On show are a series of photographs by Rhonda Klevansky, depicting migrants who have fled their tumultuous home countries in favour of the safety and freedom afforded in Britain.

In Leicester museum staff from the city have been visiting schools to give them a taster of the week and have received very positive responses from the young people who have understood the difficult concepts of terms such as ‘Refugee’ and ‘Asylum Seeker’.

Children from ten primary schools will be visiting the Guildhall and Cross Corners Community Arts Centre to participate in a host of activities.

North of the border in Glasgow the city-based Artists in Exile group will host art exhibitions, performances and spoken word events from June 22-25 in various city venues.

Formed as a forum for immigrants living in Glasgow – the group is designed to give immigrants the chance to write, paint or perform. The programme will culminate in a banquet of world food.

Refugee Week runs from June 19 until June 25 2006, World Refugee Day is on June 20 2006 and is a day for celebrating the achievements of refugees around the world. For more information about the events happening near you visit the Refugee Week 2006 website

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