Refugee Week takes place in the UK every year around World Refugee Day (20 June) as a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
It started in 1998, and its aims are to encourage a diverse range of events to be held throughout the UK, which facilitate positive encounters between refugees and the general public in order to encourage greater understanding and overcome hostility, showcase the talent and expertise that refugees bring with them to the UK and explore new and creative ways of addressing the relevant issues and reach beyond the refugee sector.
And, of course, it’s an important way of educating and raising awareness of the reality of refugee experiences.
There are loads of great ways your school can take part, no matter how big or small you want to go. There may be events near you, or you can create something in your school for students or the wider community.
After that, take a look at some of these great resources that are freely available online.
1 | All you need for a refugee assembly
This one does what it says on the tin. It’s a 34-page PDF in three parts:
What’s a refugee? Who’s a refugee?
Awareness and action
It includes a list of famous refugees from Anne Frank to Einstein to the Dalai Lama, as well as case studies, media portrayals, empathy-building tests and more.
You can download this free printable PDF at risc.org.uk here.
2 | ActionAid
With a range of resources available for Key Stages 1-4, ActionAid has English, geography and citizenship covered. These free (after a simple signup) resources include gripping stories and colourful activities for primary children, talking about disasters, conflicts and human rights to build empathy and boost literacy skills.
This resource lets teachers use film as a stimulus to discuss the hardships and resilience of refugees around the globe and contains a guide to five movies which have been specially selected to be accessible to learners within the 5-19 age range (as well as a list of other recommended films):
An American Tail
The Kite Runner
The guides include discussion questions and activity ideas to encourage learners to ask and answer questions and reflect on why people seek sanctuary in other countries.
It’s free and easy to sign up to Into Film, and then you can download these resources here.
4 | Oxfam – We’re not so different
This film was part of Oxfam’s ‘Stand as One’ campaign which last year asked the public to stand in solidarity with people forced to flee. It comes with creative resource for Key Stage 2 and 3 to get students to think about our similarities and what we all need to have a good life, as well as building empathy with refugees by imagining what it would be like to leave everything behind.
It can be difficult for some children to fully comprehend what immigrants can bring to a country, so this excellent website, which tells “An untold history of contributions to arts and culture from men and women who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution” is perfect for showing them some of the people they may know from TV and media.
I Am Human is a video designed to create empathy, and show how language can enforce and encourage negative views and stigma towards refugees and asylum seekers.
It comes with a whole sheet of activities and discussion points which you can download here.
This video, however, is just one small part of British Red Cross’ Refugee Week 2016 resources, and you can find even more resources on refugees and migration on the charity’s website here.
7 | Amnesty International
This resource is designed to introduce students aged 7-14 to the topic of refugee rights.
There are separate session plan and activity ideas for 7-11 and 11-14 year olds, helping them to understand what refugee, asylum seeker and migrant mean, to reflect and empathise with the experience of refugees and to recognise how they can act in solidarity with refugees.
The KS2 resource explores the case of Ali Özdemir, a young Syrian refugee blinded crossing the border between Syria and Turkey, while the KS3 ones look at ‘A Time to Flee’, the story of a family faced with the difficult decision of whether to flee their home.