JRS UK celebrating Refugee Week in prayer, song and steps

JRS UK Gospel Choir
JRS UK Gospel Choir

Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, in order to encourage a better understanding between communities.

Jesuit Refugee Service UK is marking the event in three ways.

JRS UK Director Sarah Teather has been invited to write and present BBC Radio 4’s  Prayer for the Day which is broadcast at 5.43am on Saturday 15 June and then each day Monday to Friday 17-21 June.   “All six reflections are themed around Refugee Week and many draw on stories and encounters from JRS projects in the UK, Lebanon and South Sudan,” Sarah explains. If you are not such an early riser you can listen again here after the first broadcast. 

Showcasing the talent and expertise that refugees bring with them to the UK is a key aim of Refugee Week and the JRS UK Refugee Gospel Choir will be performing contemporary gospel pieces, alongside some well-known favourites on Friday 21st June at 7.30 at JRS.

Directed by Magdalena Supel from Soul Sanctuary, all the members of the JRS Gospel Choir are refugees and people seeking asylum.

Matilda Tonkin Wells, who helps to co-ordinate the choir, explains, “Singing with others is a great way to be in community – it’s all about listening to each other, finding rhythms, harmonies and grooves! The JRS Gospel Choir is an opportunity for our refugee friends to come together through music as well as being an important space to make friends and just be!”

Han, one of our refugee friends, has found particular joy in the Refugee Gospel Choir, “I find it very inspiring and it is calming, a sort of stress reliever. It encourages me to face challenges in life, because it is gospel song. It motivates and it is very inspiring to move forward in life. It rejuvenates the mind and soul.”

JRS’ third Refugee Week activity is participation in the London Legal Walk on Monday 17th June. This annual 10 km walk across central London has over 10,000 participants and aims to raise awareness and funds for organisations who offer free legal advice to disadvantaged people. JRS UK has recently added an OISC registered Legal Advice Service to its offer.  Communications Manager Megan Knowles commented, “We are organising a group of about 30 staff, volunteers and refugee friends to walk together and have a fun day out! Any support will be most gratefully received.  All the money raised will go directly to supporting our new legal team, which offers vital legal advice to many of our refugee friends struggling to navigate through the complicated asylum process.”

Please mark Refugee Week by sponsoring the JRS team in its first Legal Walk  Donate to JRS