The Welcome Summit was organised by Citizens UK on the 10th of September, and brought together the groups behind the Refugees Welcome movement from across the country. It was a day where people came together to celebrate what has been achieved, take stock of the British response to date, and to plan, train and act together to build a more welcoming Britain.
One of our members, Steve Buzza, travelled to Birmingham to take part in the summit, and has shared his experiences below:
I found the Welcome Summit to be an evocative and thought provoking day as well as being very inspirational.
We were split into regions then asked for a representative from each group attending. This person formed part of the procession and had to stand at the front of the hall displaying where they were from on a piece of paper.
Funnily enough, Birmingham forget to put one forward so weren’t represented.
We heard stories from some support groups and many refugees about their experiences, some of whom have now been offered places at University with full sponsorship.
We learnt together, celebrated wins, built relationships and had fun together.
I sat with people from Cheshire, Perth and Pitlochry and Abergavenny. We exchanged e-mails so that we can keep in touch about progress.
There was a lot of social interaction going on, both one on one and in group work. People on my table were very interested in the Respite Days that we have been doing as they had not heard of it before.
The attendees were a very diverse group of people comprising of lay people, politicians, refugees and heads of councils. Letters asking for more government help were being exchanged, some of which were being given directly to the Prime Minister.
There were also seven community leaders led workshops which ran simultaneously of which I attended the housing and registered charity status. We listened, exchanged ideas and had to role play different scenarios. I learned that one bank would help you set up the charitable status and give you a donation of up to £1000.
We listened to singing throughout the day, heard a steel band and sang songs.
The day was rounded off with a reference to the Welsh squad of this summer.
We are very grateful to Steve for being able to represent our group at this historical event. Citizens UK worked with over 92 teams across the UK and representatives were present from every region and nation of the United Kingdom.
In the words of Citizens UK: “The global refugee crisis shows no sign of ending and it’s more important to make the case for welcome than ever before, but on our own it can be isolating, hard and lonely work so coming together both for action but also to celebrate, connect and learning is vital.”
Thank you to Citizens UK for organising such a fantastic event – we are indeed stronger together!