Refugee Week 2023

Refugee Week 2023

This year's festival of music and art from around the globe is almost upon us.
Refugee Week is an annual event that takes place across the country. We've been hosting Birmingham's celebrations for the last 21 years, it's how we started and will continue to be a huge part of how we grow each year.
This year we're inviting you to celebrate with us at the MAC, Symphony Hall and venues across the city with a programme filled with live music from Ethiopia, Sudan, Kurdistan, Anatolia, Sierra Leone, Poland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Guinnea-Bissau and more.
They'll also be short films, spoken word, artist commissions and book readings to inspire you.
All of this is free for you to enjoy.
Here's what we have in store for you... 

Compassion in Refugee Week

Fridays 16th and 23rd June - 1.30 – 3.30pm

Prayer at St Martins in the Bull Ring Church

For Personal & Confidential

Prayer for healing and hope      


Erdington Arts - Evening of Creativity

Friday 16th June - 6:30-9:00pm

Oikos Cafe
58 High Street, Erdington

The Evening of Creativity is a monthly extravaganza of art, music, poetry and drama held at Oikos Café in Erdington.This month Erdington Arts Forum is privileged to partner with Celebrating Sanctuary once again! We are inviting a mixture of local and refugee acts to our EoC, and warmly look forward to welcoming you through our doors.

The Evening of Creativity has been running for 6 years and has never missed a month.

Events are also live-streamed to the Active Arts Castle Vale youtube channel.

Pizza for sale.
Booking Tickets Here

Entry £5 on the door (free for refugees!)

24th Meeting of Bosnian Supplementary Schools in Great Britain

17th June       09:30 -1700

Tile Cross Academy, Gressel Lane Birmingham B33 9UF

9:30 am Registration
10:00 am Welcoming Speeches
10:20 am Performance by children
12:00 Folk Dance
12:30 Lunch
1330 Sport Activities
17:00 Awards

Refugee Week - ESOL Meet Up Mornings

Saturday 17 June - 10:00am– 12:00pm

Brasshouse Languages (inside the Library of Birmingham)

Run by the ESOL Hub Birmingham and aimed at asylum seekers and refugees who would like the opportunity to practise their English in an informal, social setting.

What to expect on the day:

  • Informal conversation session led by BAES teachers
  • Coffee or tea with a fresh pastry or cake
  • The ESOL Hub's friendly charity partners onsite to provide advice and information on issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers - immigration, employment, housing, education and much more
  • Opportunities to meet other refugees and asylum seekers and make some new friends
  • Children welcome - free activities

Please book for this free event by following This Link

Czech & Slovak Club UK

Saturday 17th June - 11.30am – 12.45pm

Mac Courtyard
Cannon Hill Park, B12 9QH

A collaboration of dancers and musicians from 5 communities - Slovak, Romanian, Latvian, Czech & Roma.  With performances from:

  • Slovak Folk ensemble BREZA
  • Midlands Latvian choir NORA
  • Romanian community musicians
  • Czech & Roma Folk 

Procession of all communities at 11:30 from the MAC courtyard to the mini golf and return. Followed by performances from each community within the courtyard.  At 1pm the groups will give a short performance to open the Refugee Week Festival Family event in the Outdoor Arena. No need to book, just turn up.


Refugee Week Festival Family Takeover

Saturday 17th June, 1:00 - 06:00pm

MAC Outdoor Arena 1:00-5.30pm
Cannon Hill Park, B12 9QH

Live music from:

  • Mohamed Osman (Sudan)
  • TwoManTing (Sierra Leone / UK)
  • Karolina Wegrzyn & Banda – (Poland / UK)
  • Suntou Susso (Gambia)

Plus performances from: Czech and Slovak Group, In Her Shoes, Stories of Hope and Home

Information Stalls, Activities and Workshops

For more information click here

MAC Hexagon Theatre 12:00 – 6:00pm

A programme of short films, spoken word, presentations and book reading

  • Short films and Artist commissions by refugee and Migrant artists
  • Looking for You - A short film created by Anna Nguyen & Kristine Landon Smith
  • Kate Rafiq - “We Are Here” Book reading & Spoken Word
  • Refugee Rescue - (presentation)
  • Spoken word from Writers Without Borders

For more information click here

Refugee Week Inclusive Gathering & World Feast Community Meal 

Sunday 18th June - 3:00-6:30pm

Upstairs at The Loft - a special Refugee Week worship gathering will be led by the fabulous Journey LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers Group.

Following the gathering (from 4:30) you are also invited to join us for a ‘World Feast’ Bring & Share Community Meal. Please RSVP for the meal via this link.

All who would like to are invited to bring a food items or drinks that represents their culture or just something they really enjoy. We will be supplementing this, so bringing food is not a requirement.

This is a proper FAMILY meal and so we will all pitch in in laying tables, clearing up and there will be opportunities to prepare some recipes together on the day.


MILE tour of Birmingham Council House

Mon 19th June, 10:30am – 2:00pm

To celebrate Refugee Week 2023,  MILE project partners, Birmingham City Council and ACH, have organised an event to explore the theme of Compassion in Action. The event will begin with a tour of the Birmingham Council House, followed by activities exploring how we can change compassion into action, and refreshments at ACH offices. The event will start at 10:30am outside the council house, and end at approximately 2pm at ACH, Floor 8, Cobalt Square, Hagley Rd, Birmingham.

It is open to all sanctuary seekers and migrants who have come to live in Birmingham from outside of the UK. Places are limited.

MILE has established a consultative body that has already met with BCC staff to consult on the revised City of Sanctuary policy. The consultative body is an open group and we want to recruit more members. So, if you are interested in engaging with BCC, and participating in decisions about your communities, and are a sanctuary seeker, or migrant,  from outside the UK then please contact us.

To get a place on the tour, or express interest in the consultative group, or both, contact: Dawn Murray – [email protected]


Mangoes On The Beach With Peter Chand

Monday 19th June.          6:30pm -7pm

A donation will be greatly appreciated  

Thimblemill Library

Thimblemill Road, Smethwick B67 5RJ

Love...Loss...Separation and the ties that bind a family...

1937.India is still under British rule, and in a small village in the north, a 10 year old boy dreams of a better life. A life of endless opportunity free from the shackles of the castle system, which has imprisoned his family for a long as long as anyone can remember.

British Indian storyteller Peter Chand has taken the story of his parents journey from the Punjab to England in the 1950s and seamlessly woven it  with traditional Indian folk tales. The result is a unique performance that is moving witty and thoughtful and delivered with great skill  by one of Europe’s most accomplished storytellers.

This little nonstory of migration has stirred audiences the length and breadth of Britain and also Greece, Norway, Canada, Austria, and the Netherlands.

'He's a bridge between two cultures in two generations… I will spellbound' [Kim Normanton, producer, Loftus productions for BBC 4]

**Suitable for adults and 12 years and over**


Late Night Exchange: World Refugee Day

Tuesday 20th June - 6:00-9:00pm

The Exchange
3 Centenary Square, Birmingham B1 2DR

This special Late event marks World Refugee Day. Join us at The Exchange for talks, performances, films and drop-in activities to learn more about the experience of refugees, honour the contributions that refugees have made to their communities and advocate for the rights and protection of refugees worldwide.

Our varied and thought-provoking programme includes:

  • A panel discussion chaired by Professor Nando Sigon, Stories of Hope and Home, individuals with lived experience who have sought sanctuary in Birmingham
  • Nahal Music Group of migrant children led by Sara Teymouri
  • A Viewing of “Not a single safe place”, a series of powerful films featuring testimony from survivors in Ukraine and Poland
  • Music from Zimbabwean musician - Millicent Chapanda

For more information and booking please follow This Link

Writing workshop with Anthony Anaxagorou

20 June 2023, 12.00-15.00

Centre for Migration and Forced Displacement
Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET

This is a free, invite-only writing workshop with the poet Anthony Anaxagorou. Participants will take part in a creative writing workshop led by Anthony and themed around migration. The participants are a mix of academics, students and people of refugee backgrounds.

We encourage participants to contact us if they are keen to attend, and anyone who wishes to nominate someone they work with, support or know, whom they think would be interested. We will be able to cover Birmingham and West Midlands travel costs for unwaged, and/or sanctuary seekers.

For more information please contact:

[email protected]

Live at B:Eats for Refugee Week

Symphony Hall – B:Eats Cafe
Inside the International Convention Centre, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA

In the lead up to our Refugee Week Takeover event on Saturday 24th, we are putting on 2 great musicians during the week at B:Eats Cafe in the Foyer at Symphony Hall

In Her Shoes - Creative Journeys Project

Thursday 22nd June, 10.30am -12.30pm (with lunch from 12.30-1.30)

Moseley Exchange
149-153 Alcester Rd, Birmingham B13 8JP

This is a women only event -Book a Space Here

We would like to invite you to join the celebration of our Creative Journeys project.  We will be sharing the songs created with women in Birmingham as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival in a celebration workshop. The songs have been re-imagined with over 40 diverse women and our guest musicians who have brought new rhythms, beats and styles of music. Come and join in with our In Her Shoes musicians Ann Jones and Katy Bennett supported by Joelle Barker on drums. This will be a fun, lively and moving way to spend your Thursday morning!

This project is supported by Birmingham City Council Arts Commissioning as part of the Legacy 2022 funding and is free to attend. Please book a place using Eventbrite and share with any women you feel would like to attend. We welcome donations that will support the on-going work of In Her Shoes.

We hope to see you on 22nd June

My Birmingham - Birch Network

Photography Exhibition and event

Thursday 22nd June - 4:00-8.30pm

Unit 4 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RT

An exhibition of photographs by Birch Network service users will be displayed with the photographers present to engage the public in conversations prompted by the work. There will be interpreters on hand to help with conversations.  With live music from ‘In her Shoes’, singing songs written by refugee women.

Plus activities and refreshments


Free Jazz Friday for Refugee Week

Symphony Hall's Jennifer Blackwell Space
Inside the International Convention Centre, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA

Friday 23rd June - 5:00-6.30pm

Free event Booking essential - please Book Tickets Here 

  • Collaboration between Niwel Tsumbu, Didier Kisala & Steve Tromans

Celebrating Sanctuary are teaming up with B:Music and Free Jazz Friday as part of our Refugee Week Festival, to present an international collaboration between Congolese musicians Niwel Tsumbu and Didier Kisala with pianist Dr Steve Tromans.


In The Shadow of the Trees

By: Stories of Hope and Home

Friday 23rd June - 7:00pm

The Door, Birmingham Rep
Centenary Square, B1 2EP

Book Tickets Here

Written and performed by members of Stories of Hope and Home, "In The Shadow of the Trees" is based on our personal stories of seeking sanctuary. It uses the trees that have been the backdrop for our stories to explore memories of the places left behind, the places passed through on the journey, and the places where we are gradually finding a new home and creating dreams for the future.

To find out more about Stories of Hope and Home please follow This Link

March for Compassion

Saturday 24th June - 10.15am

Birmingham City Centre
Meeting at Waterstones 10:00am

March to Birmingham's Get-together for Compassion in Centenary Square

Let's walk through Birmingham city centre to show our solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum.


Bring your own placards

Refugee Week Symphony Hall Takeover

Symphony Hall's Jennifer Blackwell Space
Inside the International Convention Centre, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA

Saturday 24th June - 10:00am – 5.30pm

Yoga with live music in the Main Auditorium 

10:00 - 11:00am       Booking Essential 

Join Iyengar yoga teacher Julie Baker in the iconic Main Auditorium of Symphony Hall, for an organic yoga session on the stage. Accompanied by live music from Mbira player and singer Millicent Chapanda and Tabla player Mendi Mohinder Singh.

For more information and booking please visit

Live Music from around the world In the Jennifer Blackwell Space 2:00-5:00pm

  • Melisa Yıldırım & Swarupa Ananth (Anatolia / India) - 2.15
  • Nifeco Costa & Babock Djazz (Guinea Bissau) - 3.05
  • Krar Collective (Ethiopia) – 4pm

Information stalls, arts and crafts

For more information please follow The Link

Birmingham Communities get-together for Compassion

Saturday 24thJune 11:00am – 2:00pm

Centenary Square

BCC is holding a city centre event to celebrate Refugee Week. A professional stage will feature world music from Celebrating Sanctuary, and music, song, dance and poetry that celebrates the diverse cultures of Birmingham. A market area will provide stalls with information about asylum and migration, and other wellbeing services and organisations in the city.

The event will be compered by Amerah Saleh (who performed at the CWG) and will include performances from Congolese, Arabic, Ukrainian, Kurdish, Roma, Bulgarian and Slovak musicians and dancers; a Chinese Lion dance; spoken word from Amerah Saleh; and the Birmingham City Council Choir will make this a party not to be missed.

CSB Present performances from:

  • Iryna Muha
  • Didier Kisala & Niwel Tsumbu
  • Zirak Hamad and Daholl Kurdish Band

Congolese Independence Day event

MAC – Cannon Hill Park

24th June - 4:00 - 8:00pm

The Congolese Independence Day Celebration shines a light on the beautiful, diverse culture from theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Join us for an entertaining afternoon showcasing talent from the local Congolese community with music, dance and fashion.

Line-up for the day includes Didier Kisala and Niwel Tsumbu.

For more information and to Book Tickets, please visit Here

Black Country Type: PhotoWalk for Ukrainians

Saturday 24th June         12 - 2pm

Free Event   Book Here


Unit 4 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RT

In collaboration with Post-Socialist Britain? We have organised a PhotoWalk with Artist Tom Hicks for Ukrainians as part of Refugee Week, celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and those seeking sanctuary.

Black Country Type is a photography project led by Artist Tom Hicks and shared from his influential Instagram account @blackcountrytype. Through his photography, Tom applies his unique perspective to the region, focusing on words, typography, handmade lettering and signs. His photography also captures types of architectural features and buildings in the ever-evolving Black Country landscape.

Post-Socialist Britain?: Memory, Representation and Political Identity amongst German, Polish and Ukrainian Immigrants in the UK explore the connection between memory and identity in the context of migration with a particular focus on movers from Central, East and Southeast Europe and their integration into diverse communities. The project thinks about how the changes brought about by the end of the Cold War mean that Britain can itself be thought of as a “postsocialist” space.

This event will be a great space for you to come together and share your ideas as well as uncover Digbeths Heritage, and an opportunity to contribute your own stories to the work of Post-Socialist Britain.

This Event is FREE for Everyone, please reserve your spaces now.

There will also be a follow-up feedback session on the 15th of July, more information coming soon.

Face Front Theatre: The Hero Next Door by Onjali Q. Raúf

25th June – shows at 2:30 & 5:00pm

MAC – Cannon Hill Park

From the award-winning author of ‘The Boy At The Back Of The Class’, Onjali Raúf, ‘The Hero Next Door’ is a celebration of difference and working together to do the right thing.

This new play, based on real insight from children across the UK, was developed during extensive research as groups of children helped shape the plot and the characters. The result is a ground-breaking new production created especially for 7 – 10 year olds.

The play explores the themes of friendship, empathy, and the notions of what it means to be an ‘outsider’.

Mac is delighted to confirm that Onjali Q Rauf, writer of The Hero Next Door, award-winning author of The Boy At The Back Of The Class and activist will be joining us to sign books and meet audiences AFTER the 5pm performance of The Hero Next Door as part of our Refugee Week events.

For more information and to Book Tickets, please Visit Here