Refugee Festival proves to be a real celebration of talent

July 03 2018
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Bristol’s first Refugee Festival was held as Lockleaze’s brand new Sports Centre opened its doors to the public for the first time on June 16th.

The event was organised by local social housing provider United Communities and their spokesperson Aletia Shaw says, “Bristol Refugee Festival is a month-long programme of arts, cultural and educational events that brings together communities to celebrate the contribution refugees make to the city. United Communities are delighted to have supported a day full of fun & celebration at the new Lockleaze Sports Centre, shining a light on Lockleaze as the diverse community that we know and love & uniting people from across the city.

“The focus of Bristol Refugee Festival 2018 was Celebration, Information & Integration, so we invited a host of talented individuals from the local area and city-wide to share their skills, knowledge and stories with us. On the day, people were able to enjoy a range of performance, food, and a football tournament, along with being some of the first people using the new Sport Centre function rooms. The performance kicked off with some drumming, followed by inspiring poetry by talented young people from Bristol collective ‘Lyrically Justified’. To get people on their feet & thinking about their health & wellbeing, local resident Grace Ekyll led an African dance workshop.

“Another key aim of our event was to welcome everyone and make sure people could leave with useful information to support successful integration. We were pleased to see information stalls from a range of organisations, signposting people support, advice & wellbeing services, including the charity Bristol Refugee Rights who support refugees & asylum seekers in the city through their weekly drop in. To help everyone understand why people seek sanctuary in the first place, and what the asylum process is like in the UK, we heard from a member of Bristol Refugee Rights who kindly shared their experiences with us. It was an educational experience for all and was a great way to encourage open dialogue and help overcome misconceptions about refugees.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended, performed, participated, shared, and a huge thank you to the Sports Centre and Bristol Rovers Community Trust for supporting us in making this a great event. If anyone has any follow-up comments or suggestions for improvement, feel free to email Aletia@unitedcommunities.org.uk”