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24 Nov 2015

York students host refugee week

A compelling programme of events to help raise awareness of refugees and support fundraising is planned for York from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 November.

refugeesfeatVarious activities, ranging from a ‘Jamnesty for Refugees’ music night to talks and sending letters to detained asylum seekers , will take place across the University campus and city centre.

Led by students from the University of York’s Alcuin College and the Student Union's Amnesty Society, the week long programme begins on Monday 23 November with a speaker event. The event will also launch a ‘think before you speak’ campaign, which will aim to combat the stigma, prejudice and misinformation associated with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

With opportunities to learn about volunteering with Refugee Action York (RAY), the launch event will also feature a collection point for donations and the chance to sign up for a ‘£35 a week challenge’. This challenge raises awareness of asylum seekers who are unable to work while having their application processed, receiving just £35 a week in living expenses.

Letter writing sessions for asylum seekers in Yarls Wood Detention Centre will take place on Tuesday 24 and Friday 27 November from 11am - 3pm in Yorspace, providing a space where people can write a simple message of support for those in detention.

On Sunday 29 November, families are invited to a free family fun event from 3pm at The Crescent Community Venue, off Blossom Street.

All fundraising activities will benefit a number of refugee charities, including the York Refugee Appeal which supports local organisations and communities in preparing to welcome refugees to the city.

Rosie Frost, a third year student in History and Politics and a member of the team organising ‘Alcuin Welcomes Refugees’ week, said: “The events of this summer have really put refugees on the political agenda. It’s so important that we all  come together to show solidarity and support with people fleeing conflict and human rights abuses across the world. I’m proud to be part of the University of York’s contribution to this, and I hope that everyone will join us.”

Cllr Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, said: “It is good that so many organisations and individuals are showing their support in lots of different ways, including making donations and offers of help through the York Refugee Appeal. It all means that when refugees arrive, York will be ready to offer the support they need. The University of York’s Refugee Week is an excellent way to further raise awareness and it reflects York’s commitment to welcoming refugees to our city.”

Sally Bourton, Chair of RAY, said: "Refugee Action York is delighted that so many York people have shown their willingness to welcome refugees from Syria and we thank all those who have supported us in recent months through offering to volunteer and for raising funds for us. 

“We are actively supporting children, young people and families who are asylum seekers and refugees living in York and are working closely with the City of York Council, other organisations, Faith Groups and individuals to welcome Syrian refugees to York and to help them settle here."

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