The last year has been an interesting and often exhausting one in the UK, and as someone who is passionate about travel and sharing that online, I’ve thought a lot about my responsibilities in advocating for others that share this planet too. As someone who is in the very privileged position that I can travel as often as my holiday allowance (and bank balance will let me), and can lead a relatively comfortable life in London, I’ve thought lots about those who travel not for pleasure but for safety – for refuge.
In the UK, there has been a dialogue about refugees in our media over the past 18 months that has sat uneasily with me. Instead, I prefer to imagine a different vision for life living alongside refugees in my local community, a community in London which is wonderfully rich and diverse because of refugees. A vision of a UK which not only provides a safe haven for those fleeing from danger and persecution, but that seeks to understand and celebrate what refugees add to our own culture and way of life.
From fashion and beauty, to music, art and design. From young children playing together in schools and learning about their different cultures (and not caring and instead focussing on what they have in common because that is what children do). Walking down any street in London and looking around at the businesses that are located there, and recognising that a whole community, including refugees, shaped it.What does #OurSharedFuture mean to you? #OurSharedFutureClick To Tweet
A vision for the UK’s future that remembers that Michael Marks, of Marks & Spencer fame was a Jewish refugee from Poland. And where would us privileged folk in the UK be without Marks and Spencer?!
I joke, but luckily, it’s not just me that shares this vision for inclusivity and diversity in the UK. Next week is Refugee Week 2017 (19th – 25th June), the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contribution of refugees. The theme for this year is #OurSharedFuture, and hundreds of arts, cultural and educational events will be held nationwide in renowned venues, public squares, libraries, schools and places of worship to celebrate.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect – over the past year in the UK, events, the media, politicians and people have sought to divide us, but for me its never been more clear that to build a successful, peaceful and inclusive society in the UK we need to recognise what we have in common, and work together. You could say that we all need to share in this future – and whilst refugees may have different backgrounds or come from different places, we all share the same planet (and indeed the same country!) and all our lives can be immeasurably enriched by reaching across that difference.
There are so many ways to get involved in Refugee Week next week, whether that’s attending an event in your area or joining in with your support on social media. There are so many events happening from the 19th- 25th June 2017, and you can search for ones near you using the events calendar on the Refugee Week 2017 website. If you’re a Londoner like me, there are so many events to attend, you could fill your whole week with inspiration and positivity!
However you decide to engage with Refugee Week 2017 this year, I’d love to know about what #OurSharedFuture means to you – what’s your vision for a wonderfully inclusive society? Let me know in the comments below!