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© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Community picnics at the end of “Healing” Refugee Week

Campaign activist and media manager for Kent Refugee Action Network, Bridget Chapman, has proposed “community picnics up and down the country so that those with lived experience, those from the refugee and migrant support sector, and all those in the community who support and want to show solidarity, can come together to simply share a meal, and enjoy each other’s company.”

Also sharing a meal fits in nicely with Refugee Week’s ‘Simple Acts’ suggested activities and this year’s theme of Healing. Find out more about Simple Acts and “Share a Dish”. When Bridget shared this idea on Twitter, it was widely welcomed by campaigners from local and national groups around the country. We’d like to support the idea by encouraging those of you who would like to get involved, to use our online map to publicise your picnics. As Bridget says, “To see a map gradually being populated with orange hearts marking all of the different events being announced would be truly, forgive me, heartening.”

Photo: Dziana Hasanbekava via pexels.com

Apart from some gentle promotion of the event, it shouldn’t place a particular burden on anyone to organise. “Being outside and in public spaces it’s covid safe and there’s no booking fee or paperwork for venues. No one has to spend lots of money buying food – the idea would be that everyone who could, would bring something to share. And of course, anyone can attend without bringing anything at all, so there would be no barrier for struggling families.”

Together With Refugees will make available simple poster templates that fit in with the Refugee Week theme, that you can adapt to advertise your picnics. We will also share graphics and text to help you promote your picnics via social media.

The weekend of 25-26 June is being proposed as that’s the end of Refugee Week, and many organisations, like KRAN, will do something for that week anyway. This could help to do that job with relatively little work for overstretched staff and volunteers.

“I think the physical manifestation of public support for refugees is really important in all of this. We know from all of the polling that many in the community support us and what we are trying to achieve. While many don’t have the time or the desire to attend a demo, a picnic that’s local is easy, unthreatening, and fun.”

“I remember when we were campaigning against Farage in Thanet someone suggested having an outside ‘continental breakfast’ one morning. And it was the gentlest, most unthreatening, and powerful way of protesting, with lots of great photo ops. And, of course, what could be more British than a picnic?”

We will draw on Refugee Week materials to prepare a simple media toolkit to help you attract local media, if you are so inclined. This helps contribute to our overall aim to change the media narrative, by presenting positive stories of refugees as an integral part of communities and at a truly British picnic; one that reflects different cultures and heritage.