Refugee Week Scotland launches a programme of welcome

Igbo celebration  Iman Tajik LOW RES
The community celebrations are stronger than ever. (c) Iman Tajik

Scottish Refugee Council presents its 14th Refugee Week Scotland programme today, which aims to celebrate both the warm welcome that Scots give to refugees seeking sanctuary from around the globe, and the contribution refugees make to our communities

Refugee Week Scotland - which runs from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 June, 2014 -  is part of a UK-wide arts and cultural festival that recognises the unique skills and talents refugees from around the world bring to Scotland and contribute to Scottish society.

This year’s packed programme, which goes live today, has over 120 music, theatre, dance and visual arts events as well as discussions, films, community celebrations, workshops and more, featuring the input of refugees rebuilding their lives in Scotland from countries including Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka amongst others.

Highlights include Scottish Refugee Council and British Red Cross’ World Refugee Day Concert on Friday 20 June at the Old Fruitmarket, featuring Scottish Album of the Year nominated Young Fathers, a trip-hop trio from Edinburgh via Nigeria and Liberia as well as Scottish Gaelic and Céilidh music band Skipinnish and fiery gypsy punk from Balkanarama.

Celebrating Glasgow’s communities

Our Community Celebrations programme – Refugee Week Scotland’s beating heart – is stronger than ever with 30 refugee and local community groups taking part, while a special strand - Welcome: Common Ground – in collaboration with 12 refugee groups across Scotland will celebrate the Commonwealth Games and the eclectic diversity of Scotland's communities.

In performing arts and film, 'A View from Here' is a timely exploration of Glasgow’s high rises. As the flats across the city are demolished, Scottish Refugee Council has been working with residents to capture their stories through visual arts, photography, film and performance before this heritage is lost and Refugee Week Scotland will premiere the documentary that has come from the project.

We’ll also be taking to the streets with our artist-led Welcome Tent, which will bring thought-provoking acts of welcome to Glasgow city centre, and we’ll also launch our new short film – 'Welcome' – which highlights just how important a simple act of welcome can be to those who have fled persecution and war. You can also enter our own short welcome film in our #IWelcomeRefugees video competition

And that’s just for starters.

Suzi Simpson, Arts and Cultural Co-ordinator for Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This summer Scotland will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. With visitors from all over the world coming to our country, what better time for Refugee Week Scotland to have a warm and heartfelt message of ‘welcome’ at the heart of the festival.

“And of course it’s not just visitors we want to welcome. At a time of increasingly negative attitudes towards migrants in the UK, we want to send a strong message that refugees and those seeking asylum are welcome here and celebrate the unique and important contributions they make to our communities.

“We’re extremely proud of our rich and diverse programme of events from our exciting and upbeat World Refugee Concert, to a host of community events, theatre performances, community events and much more. And we’re proud to say ‘I welcome refugees’ and to help people re-build their lives in a place of safety.”