Self Help UK

Outreach and Development in our Community

11th Jul 2022 | Posted in : Nottinghamshire, Self Help Groups, Self Help UK News

Self Help UK attends Nottingham Refugee Week events. 

Gatherings of people at events in Nottingham celebrating Refugee Week 2022
Refugee Week June 2022

Self Help UK attended the Refugee Week launch at Sneinton Market, Nottingham. 
Our Outreach and Engagement Worker, Keisha, was doing the rounds and getting reacquainted with charities and organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in the city. 

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week was ‘healing’.

Keisha reviews the event below...

"Healing for me is a combination of listening to soothing music and poetry, connecting with people, eating tasty food, dressing in ‘happy’ colours, dancing like no one is watching. The launch event incorporated all of that and more! 

Nottingham Refugee Week started with a bang… of African Drums. The audience participated in a drumming circle workshop with Power of Drums CIC. Those both young and old were brought together by the session of melodic beats and there were lots of smiling faces throughout – including from the lively and comical host, who satirically professed to be the best drummer there is, and kept us all entertained. We were then treated to a special performance by students and teachers from NEST (Nottingham Education Sanctuary Team). One student sang in his mother tongue, followed by more group drumming – a truly captivating experience.    

I was delighted to see members of the community, volunteers and leaders from local organisations that I have not crossed paths with for YEARS! I was greeted by a familiar and friendly Co-op Member Pioneer and guardian of Sneinton Market. I felt positively overwhelmed by the sense of kinship, belonging and community that became lost through the pandemic and life circumstances. It is events like these, which showcase the importance of bringing together like-minded people for a good cause, or simply just for a good time!   

And of course, the good cause here is celebrating refugees and asylum seekers! Celebrating the fact that they add to the diversity of this country and many others worldwide, and also celebrating their contributions. And there are many… from flavoursome food, magical music, colourful clothing, cultural traditions and vibrant festivals. These are things that we all take for granted, as they enhance our wellbeing and our sense of identity. Poets Against Racism performed a spoken word poem – reminding us all of our collective responsibility to help people feel welcome here. The powerful prose washed over the audience like a cleanse for the soul as we stood in the rain. 

Refugees and asylum seekers deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion – and there was heaps of that here! Host Nottingham reminded me of the acts of kindness that exist within our community – that people are willing to offer a spare room to host ‘strangers’ for any length of time. How rewarding it must be to know that you’ve provided someone with a safe space to live, even temporarily! I was reminded of the people in need of decent quality clothing, particularly men’s wear. So, when my family members next have a wardrobe clear out, I’ll be sure to drop off some clothing and footwear. I hear they’re in need of smaller sizes, so some of our stuff should fit perfectly. When you dress well, you feel well! 

On that note, I’ll follow up with the old adage that “you are what you eat” – and I’m trying to eat more healthily. Lunch was a real feast! Abeyo Ethiopian Cuisine served up a helping of traditional food – the brightest plate I’ve eaten all week, and oh-so-wholesome! I was so inspired by the meat-free cuisine, that I purchased some organic oyster mushrooms grown with enthusiasm and care at Nottingham Vertical Farm in Carlton. I’m on a quest to find local businesses who support my mission to eat less meat and try alternatives, so this was right up my alley! 

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum offered a friendly welcome, providing delicious, nourishing meals, snacks and sweet treats for free or a small donation – oh, how I have missed the food and the memories made at their in-house café on Hungerhill Road! There was plenty of information on their projects, and those run by Nottingham Arimathea Trust supporting people to integrate into life in the UK. Refugee Roots were also on the scene, inviting people to discuss their befriending services and the practical support available to refugees and asylum seekers in Nottingham. 

Having volunteered in the community for a number of years, I have witnessed the traumatic impact of fleeing your home country and risking your life in a small boat or under a lorry. And there are a few things we need to talk more honestly about in the media, including the impact this has on your mental wellbeing and physical health, and how people struggle with loneliness and a lack of access to services in health, education, employment and housing.  

And then there’s the lengthy UK immigration process that refugees and asylum seekers contend with. It’s not always pretty… We are still living in a time where we have to campaign for equal rights. HRM Solicitors (dual qualified in both England and Pakistan) were on hand to provide legal counsel and guidance. 

Vanclaron CIC were busy raising awareness of mental health and the services they provide including social prescribing, and in turn reducing the stigma of seeking help – a much needed influence! Mojatu Foundation offered a wealth of information on their ongoing campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), empowering women and girls, various projects promoting inclusion, and community-based courses – great if you want to upskill! Healthwatch Nottingham and Nottinghamshire were also back, representing the people and ensuring their voices are heard at all levels across the healthcare sector. 

There were standout performances from FlowerSmile and the audience was fully engaged – how could you not be, with an act full of personality! The performance closed with an embrace of participants – a true reflection of the warmth radiating in abundance throughout the event! Embodied Blossoming also showed off some enchanting moves before hosting a workshop with the audience, reminding us that there is POWER and HEALING in M O V E M E N T – both literal and figurative – and we would all do well to move our bodies (and people) more, so go on – dance like no one is watching!"

- Keisha Walters, BAME Outreach and Engagement Worker,

Self Help UK 

Mobile: 07946 138 247