Features / Bristol Refugee Festival

Preview: Bristol Refugee Festival

By lowie trevena, Tuesday Jun 4, 2019

A celebration of community and creativity, Bristol Refugee Festival returns for a month of exhibitions, activities, performance, speakers and food.

The festival is an annual celebration, promoting a better understanding towards refugees and help overcome misconceptions; value to diversity and talent that refugees and asylum seekers bring to the city and support successful integration.

Jules Olsen, the festival’s director says: “There’s a huge increase in hate crime and all the rest of it but actually, unless we facilitate ways for people to get together, they just don’t.

“Integration has to be a two-way thing. I want more communities than ever to feel that they can get involved.”

Bristol Refugee Festival’s Celebrating Sanctuary event takes place in Queen Square

Over 15 events are planned for 2019’s Bristol Refugee Festival. Launching on Tuesday, June 11 at the Trinity Centre, the theme for this year is ‘Generations’, with events ranging from bike riding to panel discussions. “It will be really nice,” says Jules of the launch event. “It’s really informal, really family-friendly, just a drop-in type thing.”

‘One City, Many Stories’ rakes place on June 19 with the mayor’s office and IOM-UN Migration facilitating a discussion on inclusion and integration of refugees in Bristol.

Jules says: “It’s not just about refugees, it’s about migrants too. We’ll have a refugee speaker and a migrant speaker, probably from the Windrush generation. There will be someone from a host community too. We hope that it will be very interactive and that everyone can get involved.”

The highlight of the month for many is ‘Celebrating Sanctuary’, the flagship event on June 23. With stalls, trade stands, food and activities on Queen Square, it’s an afternoon out for everyone to enjoy. “It’s a chance to really celebrate community,” says Jules.

Enjoy music at Celebrating Sanctuary

Jules is also quick to promote the ‘Sanctuary in Sport’ event in Lockleaze on June 15, saying: “There are communities further out of Bristol who don’t always know about the festival.

“We wanted to create a safe space with simple sports. The idea is that anybody can join in.” The event will take place at Lockleaze Sports Centre, with a bouncy castle, facepainting and sports such as rounders and frisbee. There will also be a football tournament for those aged over 16.

“We want more communities to feel like they can get involved,” says Jules. “We just want to celebrate community and togetherness.”

Find out more at www.bristolrefugeefestival.org

Read more: Strength in diversity

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