Landmarks across Sunderland are being lit to mark the beginning and end of Refugee Week. (20-26 June)
Penshaw Monument, Northern Spire Bridge, Keel Square, Fulwell Mill, Seaburn Lighthouse, Hylton Castle and the Beacon of Light will be lit orange on Monday 20 June and Sunday 26 June.
Sunderland is also hosting a series of events to recognise the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers in Sunderland and around the UK beginning with a 12 mile Walk of Sanctuary, led by City of Sanctuary Chair, Chris Howson on Monday.
Among the many other events and activities organised for the week are a cricket match organised by Young Asian Voices, a Cooking Together lunch at Sunderland College which brings refugees together with college staff and students, Breakfast with a Refugee at Back on the Map in Hendon and a free family fun day at Backhouse Park.
People can also enjoy a free ‘Stories of Sanctuary Sunderland’ concert, celebrating the stories of refugees and asylum seekers who have sought sanctuary in the city, at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus at 7pm on Saturday 25 June. This was commissioned by Sunderland City Council and is being run in partnership with Sunderland College. The week will end with a Peace Vigil at Sunderland Minster at 6pm next Sunday, 26 June.
Sunderland City Council Cabinet Secretary, Councillor Paul Stewart, said: “Sunderland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers and of communities living and working together. I’m really proud to be supporting Refugee Week which is all about raising awareness of the life and death decisions facing those escaping war and persecution, and helping us to better appreciate the cultural and social contribution that they make to the world.
“Refugees sharing their stories and experiences with us all helps create a better understanding of why they were forced to flee, and their determination to bring their skills, talents and creative energy to life in our city.
“We have had many individuals and families settle in Sunderland after having lost their homes due to war or to escape persecution over the years, and they have made a huge contribution to our culture and way of life. They have shown us their strength and resilience and taught us how to hold onto hope in the most challenging of circumstances
“More recently, following the tragic events in Afghanistan and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Sunderland has opened its homes and, more importantly, its heart to those fleeing war and devastation. As a city, we have rallied together to offer support, from key partners working together to create a robust support package involving accommodation and assistance for Afghan refugees, to Sunderland residents offering up their spare rooms to house desperate Ukrainians. Everyone is doing all that they can to make sure that anyone coming into our city feels safe and welcome.”
To find out more about the week’s planned events and activities visit: FODI (fodisunderland.org)