Oxford City Council is once again supporting Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival running from 15 to 21 June that celebrates the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.
This year Refugee Week has the theme ‘imagine’, and Refugee Resource, Oxford City of Sanctuary and Oxford Human Rights Festival are holding a series of online events and activities to mark the week:
- Tuesday 16 June, The personal journey of a young female stateless refugee, 5:30pm-7pm. Basma Eldoukhi shares her personal journey as a young female refugee who comes to the UK to study. Organised by Oxford Human Rights Festival.
- Thursday 18 June, Imagine Oxfordshire with Refugee Resource, 6:30pm-8pm. Staff, volunteers, clients and supporters of Refugee Resource share insights, poetry and stories about refugee experiences in Oxfordshire.
- Friday 19 June, Narratives of Hope, Solidarity and Resilience, 5pm-7pm. Part of Oxford City of Sanctuary and Oxford Human Rights Festival, this panel discussion will explore the stories of refugees and asylum seekers and celebrate Oxford’s achievements in welcoming diversity.
Information and registration for all events is available from Eventbrite through the links above.
Oxford City Council support for refugees and asylum seekers
Between 2015 and 2018 the council resettled 30 refugee families under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS), the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) and a community response scheme – more than any other council in the South East.
The council has also been successful in winning two rounds of funding from the government’s Controlling Migration Fund (CMF). Working with education providers and other partners such as Asylum Welcome, Connection Support and Refugee Resource, the council has used CMF funding to support migrants integrating into their new lives in Oxford. This support includes language classes, help finding work, volunteering and mentoring programmes, information resources and taking action against landlords letting illegal ‘beds in sheds’ to migrant communities.
In July 2019, councillors unanimously passed a cross party motion reaffirming the council’s commitment to being a city of sanctuary, upholding the principles of dignity and respect for all and signing up to Oxford’s commitment to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. At the same meeting, they appointed Councillor Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini as Oxford’s first migrant champion, helping migrant communities to access services and ensuring their needs are considered and voices heard in council policy.
In November, Oxford’s independent advice centres followed the council in pledging non-cooperation with the Home Office’s hostile environment on immigration.
The council has recently supported the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ call to help break down the barriers which prevent some of our residents from seeking help, accessing public services and being safe during the pandemic.
“As the daughter of a political refugee who came to the UK when I was 13, I remember well the challenges involved in starting life again in a new country. The disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on migrant communities has once again highlighted the need for listening to and acting on the voices of our most affected colleagues and neighbours. We are all only as safe as the least protected amongst us. I would urge Oxford residents to participate in Refugee Week to work together towards a more equal city.”
Councillor Dr Hosnieh Djarfani-Marbini, migrant champion
“Migrant communities are an important part of our vibrant and diverse city. Refugee Week provides an opportunity to mark their valuable contribution to Oxford, reflect on their experience and to work together to better understand how we can overcome the equality gap many still face.”
Councillor Marie Tidball, cabinet member for supporting local communities