By Amina Khalid
Though the media has been almost entirely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, there are still people fleeing their homes for many reasons every day and it is important that we all remember them and support them if we can.
We hosted an event on World Refugee Day in Islington in London. It was an opportunity for children and their parents to come together in a positive way, to have fun, to reflect and take a break in what has been a very difficult year for us all and for refugees and asylum seekers especially. Amina Khalid, the head of our Sustainable Communities programme, shared this about the event:
“As part of the UK-wide Refugee Week and global initiative of World Refugee Day, the Sustainable Communities Programme of Initiatives of Change hosted a small closed community gathering in the award-winning Penn Road Gardens in Islington. Local families and their children from the refugee and migrant community gathered together with members from the host community for the first time since the lockdown. The event was a unique opportunity to reflect, recognise and celebrate the courage and resilience of those who had been forced to flee from their homes due to war and persecution.
Whist young girls joyfully painted and run around the beautiful garden under the supervision of the parents, the boys played football. Parents collectively reflected on what it meant to be a refugee and celebrating World Refugee Day for the second year against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis. “On one hand record numbers of people are still being forced to flee their homes, and on the other hand the world is still grappling with COVID-19, how can we recover equally in such an unjust world?” – said one of the parents during a story sharing session. Refugees and migrant women are among the social groups most impacted by this crisis, the event provided an intimate and safe space to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead with optimism.
Invited members from the community were very appreciative to connect and form friendships over food, music and fun activities for their children to enjoy. “Thank you for taking us out of our prison and help us to breathe some fresh air” said one of the parents from Syria – we hope to come together again in this spirit of community and togetherness. We thank Initiatives of Change for the creativity and imagination in which has brought us together.”