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Eight great ways to get involved with Refugee Week in London

Eight great ways to get involved with Refugee Week in London
Ahmed Osman Breddos Tacos © Laura Jalbert

This annual festival celebrates the many contributions refugees have made in the UK. Here are some excellent ways to support it.  

 

Choose Love x A Mile in My Shoes

As Atticus Finch wisely said in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk about in them.’ That’s exactly the premise of this inventive collaboration between Help Refugees and the Empathy Museum. They’ve set up a ‘shoe shop’ on Newburgh Street, but you won’t be measured for a new pair of size eights there. Instead, you’ll get to literally take a walk in the shoes of a London refugee, by putting on a pair belonging to them and listening to their story through headphones. Storytellers include famous names like Somali boxer Ramla Ali and Czechoslovakia-born Labour politician Lord Alf Dubs. You’ll also hear more unknown tales like that of Vivian, who spent six months detained at Yarl’s Wood, and Aloysius, who was tortured for being gay in Uganda and now runs a UK support group for LGBT+ refugees.
3 Newburgh St. Oxford Circus tube. Until Sun Jun 23. Free.

Refugee Food Festival

Some of the world’s most talented refugee chefs are taking over London’s top restaurant kitchens for this series of special supper clubs. Each will introduce flavours from their home country to the city’s menus, such as Syrian chef Majeda Khouri, exiled for her civil rights work, who will be cooking up Italian-Syrian fusion dishes at Elephant & Castle’s Mercato Metropolitano (Tuesday).  Muzaffar Sadykov from street food stand Oshpaz will be adding flavours from Uzbekistan to the menu at French joint Pique-Nique (Wednesday) and Egyptian chef Ahmed Osman will inject a North African twist to the plates at Breddos Tacos in Clerkenwell (Friday).
Various locations. Until Fri Jun 21. Prices vary, booking essential. www.refugeefoodfestival.com.

‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper?’

This month, St Paul’s Cathedral will be home to an actual UNHCR tent used in a Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. London-based artist Kate Daudy has used the tent, which housed a family for several months, as a canvas on which to embroider the sobering words of displaced women, aid workers, diplomats and other voices involved in the refugee crisis. The result is a beautiful, but urgent, tapestry illuminating hardships faced by those fleeing persecution and war. 
St Paul’s Churchyard. St Paul’s tube. Until Jun 27. Free. 

Migration Lates

The wonderful Migration Museum, dedicated to telling the stories of people who have travelled to Britain over the centuries, is opening after hours for this late. See performances by Qisetna – a non-political platform preserving the cultural heritage of Syria – and chow down on bites by Migrateful, a charity helping refugees and asylum seekers gain cookery skills.
Migration Museum. Lambeth North tube. Thu Jun 20. Free, registration essential.  

V&A Refugee Week

Artists, DJs and UK music legends are descending on the V&A to explore displacement in all its forms. Take a look at ‘You, Me, and Those Who Came Before’ – a specially commissioned exhibition of refugee portraits, such as actor Ncuti Gatwa (above), then bust a move at ‘Dance for Refuge’, where Touching Bass will be making Dale Chihuly’s glass chandelier shake as they spin a set in the Grand Entrance hall. Stick around for a DJ set by punk icon Don Letts. 
V&A. South Kensington tube. Until Sun Jun 23.

Refugee Week at Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe has invited a plethora of refugee artists and performers to share their stories on its Elizabethan stage. Tonight, hear readings of defining early memories from refugees such as Madeleine Albright and Yusra Mardini as well as lesser-known, courageous voices, all chronicled in Ben Holden’s new anthology ‘My First Memory’, before Lord Alf Dubs and Melvyn Bragg tread the boards to reveal their watershed childhood experiences. You can also catch ‘Voices in the Dark’, a newly devised piece drawing on Shakespearian themes of refuge, home and belonging  (Saturday), and a performance of ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ broadcast live into cinemas (Thursday) free of charge for local migrant communities. 
Shakespeare’s Globe. Blackfriars tube. Until Sun Jun 23. Prices vary.

Integration

Anyone who’s seen Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ will know just how crucial a role Warsan Shire played. Now you can see an animated film of the Somali-British poet’s work ‘Ugly’ at this night exploring how integrated refugees are in the creative industries. As well as the film, by director Anna Ginsburg and artist Melissa Kitty Jarram, there’ll be screenings of three other pieces created or inspired by refugees plus a panel led by It’s Nice That’s Lucy Bournton exploring diversity. All proceeds go towards Counterpoints, which supports arts by and about refugees. 
The Trampery Old Street. Old St tube. Wed Jun 19. £10.

Refugee Week Summer Festival

This family-friendly festival from the Afghan and Central Asian Association is celebrating the local community’s cultural richness with live music from Afghani artists plus theatre and dance performances. There’ll also be talks, crafts and, most importantly, plenty of delicious and diverse food. 
Lampton Park. Hounslow Central tube. Sun Jun 23. Free entry.

By Alexandra Sims, Bobby Palmer and Angela Hui 

Images: Choose Love x A Mile in My Shoes © Cat Lee, Integration © Melissa Kitty

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