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Refugees in Bristol share their stories

By ellie pipe, Wednesday Feb 19, 2020

The first word Anwar learnt when he came to England was ‘government’.

“I heard this word so many times on the radio and TV,” he says, with a grin, addressing an audience packed into the Trinity Centre in Old Market for the South West Refugee Week Conference.

A member of Bristol Refugee Rights’ Voice Project, Anwar shares his story and experiences of being uprooted from his home and arriving in the UK.

Concluding, he says: “You have to believe in yourself and you can be the person you wish to be.”

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Next, Essam takes to the stage, sharing everyday anecdotes of learning when to queue on the tube and when to walk, British weather and navigating the roads in a country where everyone drives on the opposite side of the road.

He touches on his own traumatic experience of the UK immigration system, going on to say: “I never give up and I don’t believe in giving up because when you have two legs and two hands and two eyes, you should carry on with life.”

With the theme of ‘imagine’, the aim of the conference is to raise awareness and share ideas, with workshops relating to arts & culture, the environment, media, language and creative writing.

Part of a national project, the conference at Trinity covers the whole of the South West. The work will feed into the annual Bristol Refugee Festival, taking place throughout June, with the aim of celebrating refugees and asylum seekers and the contributions they bring, as well as promote understanding and integration and tackle misconceptions.

The theme ‘imagine’ will continue across Bristol Refugee Festival 2020

Read more: Refugee choir in finals for national award

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