London has a proud history of welcoming people from all corners of the globe. In turn, this has shaped London into the multicultural, dynamic city it is today. Many people have found a new home here after being forced to leave their countries due to persecution and conflict. Each year Refugee Week offers an opportunity to show solidarity and celebrate the accomplishments of refugees across our city and all over the world.
We joined our funded partners Cardinal Hume Centre for this year’s Refugee Week open day to share the achievements and stories of asylum seekers and refugees who have stepped through their doors.
Here are just a few highlights.
All around the Cardinal Hume Centre were examples of people’s accomplishments and aspirations. We were particularly inspired by some of the creativity and artwork on show.
Other stories at the centre demonstrated the different ways refugees supported by Cardinal Hume are integrating into their new home and making valuable contributions. Abdulmajid from Eritrea, who arrived in London in 2020, shared his journey:
When I came to London the first time, I was in Central London. I took my first picture. I felt happy. It was in 2020. Since then, I have been studying English. When my photo was taken, I didn’t know English. I will be a mechanical engineer.
Compassion into action
This year’s theme for Refugee Week is ‘compassion into action’. Cardinal Hume's tree of compassion showcases simple pledges for turning compassion into action. Small acts of kindness that can lead to real change.
The challenges facing refugees
Refugee Week is a time of celebration, but we can’t ignore the challenges many refugees and migrants face today in the UK. The government’s proposals for the Illegal Migration Bill this year are a cause of major concerns.
Mohammed shared his difficult journey through the asylum system. Escaping the war in Sudan, Mohammed arrived in the UK in 2004, having travelled by lorry due to there being no safe and legal routes. He was then detained for two months in a refugee camp.
I hope the problems I went through never happen to others.
After his release, Mohammed spent six years in Manchester awaiting a decision on his status. But his refugee status was rejected, so he went to London. Finally, in 2010 he was granted indefinite right to remain and now lives in London with his children.
Reflecting on his experiences, Mohammed said:
“I am trying to bring my wife to the UK so that I can be here with my family. I also need to educate myself academically so we can all stay in London as a family, as our home.
“I hope the problems I went through never happen to others.”
Refugee Week is fundamentally about hope.
In a video entitled ‘An Ahmed and Amin Production’ there was plenty of it. Written and created by two brothers aged 15 and 16 who’ve been connected to the Cardinal Hume Centre for ten years, they said:
“People should be thankful to live in a world with so many cultures and beliefs. I don’t find it fair that people have to fight and protest to be treated equally by others.
“Compassion means to recognise the suffering of others, but it also means to take action to help.”
About Cardinal Hume Centre
The Cardinal Human Centre provide support to young people and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and vulnerable people with urgent needs. Find out more about their work on their website.