Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Founded in 1998 and held every year around World Refugee Day on the 20 June, Refugee Week is also a growing global movement.
Through a programme of arts, cultural, sports and educational events alongside media and creative campaigns, Refugee Week enables people from different backgrounds to connect beyond labels, as well as encouraging understanding of why people are displaced, and the challenges they face when seeking safety. Refugee Week is a platform for people who have sought safety in the UK to share their experiences, perspectives and creative work on their own terms.
Refugee Week’s vision is for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution.
Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, and anyone can get involved by holding or joining an event or activity. Refugee Week events happen in all kinds of different spaces and range from arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings and museum tours to football tournaments, public talks and activities in schools.
Refugee Week is a partnership project coordinated and managed by Counterpoints Arts. Our national partners are listed here.
For more on Refugee Week’s vision, strategy and values see our Theory of Change.
Shared Values and Principles
We encourage all Refugee Week initiatives which reflect these core beliefs:
We All Have the Right to be Safe
We believe that everyone deserves a home and has the right to seek safety for themselves and their families.
There is a Bigger Us
We are not the same. Our experiences are different and we do not have equal access to resources and power. But we are also interconnected and interdependent: part of a ‘bigger us’. We believe that the safety of each of us matters to all of us, and strive to come together around shared values of fairness, mutual support, kindness and respect for universal rights.
Open to All
Refugee Week is an open platform and welcomes a wide range of responses suited to many different contexts. As a movement, we aim to make our activities inclusive and remove barriers to participation.
Refugee Week celebrates the contributions of refugees and people seeking sanctuary in order to challenge negative stereotypes and create a space where refugees can be seen and heard beyond their experience of displacement. We believe that everyone has a contribution to make, and reject the idea that people seeking safety should have to ‘prove their worth’ more than others in society.
Arts and Culture Make Change
We believe that arts and culture can help us see migration and displacement differently: by creating connection across difference, taking the voices and experiences of refugees to new spaces and helping us imagine how we can live better together.
A Space for Many Stories
Refugee Week aims to be an empowering platform where people who have experienced displacement can express themselves on their own terms. We recognise that no single narrative represents ‘the refugee experience’, and support diverse representations of people and experiences through arts and culture.
We believe that, wherever possible, initiatives about refugee experiences should involve people with lived experience of displacement in their planning and leadership.
Refugees are not a Single Group
We recognise that refugees and asylum seekers are not a single group and have different experiences, including because of race, class, gender, sexuality, age and immigration status.
We use the word ‘refugee’ because of its legal and historical significance, and because we believe it is important to reclaim it from negative uses. At the same time, we recognise the danger of labels and respect people’s right to decide how they define themselves. Refugee Week celebrates the contributions of everyone seeking safety, regardless of the legal status they hold.