Imagine the future you want to see: get involved in Refugee Week

Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 13:02

Monday 15 June sees the start of Refugee Week; the annual UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. And, had our doors been currently open, we'd be getting set to host a number of events and activities across the week, in partnership with Hoxton-based group Counterpoints Arts.

A leading national organisation on arts, migration and cultureal change, Counterpoints Arts support and produce arts by and about migrants and refugees. Because they believe the arts can inspire social change and enhance inclusion and cultural integration of refugees and migrants, they have made it their mission to ensure refugees' contributions are recognised and welcomed within British arts, history and culture. It's why we're really proud to partner with Counterpoints Arts, both on Refugee Week and other projects throughout the year.

So, whilst we sadly can’t celebrate Refugee Week in the Southbank Centre this year, we asked our friends at Counterpoints Arts for ideas about how you can celebrate it at home.

Women for Refugee Women
Image credit: Women for Refugee Women

‘The issues at the heart of refugee experiences – the importance of home, safety, and welcome – can be understood by children from a very young age. And, young people who are given the opportunity to connect with refugee experiences gain an understanding they will carry with them into adulthood. So, if you’d like to help your children or young family members understand refugee issues, then help is at hand!

‘The first ever virtual edition of Refugee Week takes place 15-21 June. Supported by Schools of Sanctuary and the National Education Union, Refugee Week is usually celebrated in hundreds of schools across the UK, and this year we hope that more children than ever will take part from their homes.

‘The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is ‘imagine’, and we know that young people will lead the way in sharing the future they want to see. There are a wide range of ways children and young people can develop their understanding of displacement and show their support for refugees during the week. Here are a few of our suggestions.’


Simple Acts Campaign

recommended for ages 4-12

Simple acts are everyday actions we can all do to stand with refugees and make new connections within our communities. You could tell a joke, read a book or even share a song that has crossed borders. 

Refugee Week: 8 Simple Acts

Whatever you choose, whether you fancy yourself as a stand-up or a singer, make sure you work the theme of 'imagine' into your act. And if you want to choose to read a book, ere are some suggestions for books on refugees and asylum seekrs from the Book Trust to get you started.

books for younger children
books for older children



Watch and discuss a short film

recommended ages 5+

The best films take us to places we’d never otherwise have gone, introduce us to people we’d never otherwise have met, and spark conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have had. Watching a film together and discussing it afterwards can be a great way to explore migration and refugee experiences. This short animated poem by Kazzum Arts, Help them feel at Home, is a great starting point for younger children.

You’ll find more films and resources for older children, and resources to help discussions around the films, in the Refugee Week Activity Pack

download the Refugee Week activity pack



Send a message of welcome to a newly-arrived family

recommended for ages 4-11

Coordinated by Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, A Day of Welcome is a day of solidarity and learning that aims to build a culture of welcome and understanding for refugees and asylum seekers. You can create a piece of artwork to welcome Syrian families who have resettled in the UK and share with Norfolk City of Sanctuary to be included in their digital exhibition. 

take part in A Day of Welcome



Make a doll’s house and be part of an international virtual exhibition

recommended for ages 5+

The virtual giant dolls’ house project Alone Together invites children of all ages to make their own doll’s house in a shoe box. Led by architect Catja de Haas and supported by Oxfam and the London Festival of Architecture, it’s an opportunity for young people to share their experiences of being stuck at home, whilst also imagining what it is like to lose the place you live. 

To find out more, and for tips on how to make your doll’s house, visit the Giant Dolls’ House website  and don’t forget to share your images and stories before 20 June to be included in the exhibition.

Giant Doll’s House



Explore poetry and migration tales with Ministry of Stories

recommended for ages 11-16

Migration Tales - poems and raps by young writers by Ministry of Stories

To help young people investigate stories of migration and of those seeking refuge, The Ministry of Stories has released a special writing pack for Refugee Week 2020. Through it young writers will be able to create their own poetry inspired by song lyrics. At the heart of the exercises are the questions: ‘what would make someone leave their home and their loved ones?’ and ‘how do you start to build a new life after that?’

download the writing pack 



There are many more activities you and your children can take part in during Refugee Week, including virtual events. So be sure to explore the full programme.

Refugee Week events

And, the Refugee Week 2020 Children & Young People’s Activity Pack contains even more links to creative activities, films and learning resources for you to explore.

Refugee Week activity pack

Don’t forget to share how you celebrate Refugee Week on social media using #RefugeeWeek2020.


Refugee Week is a partnership project coordinated by Counterpoints Arts.


As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.

The show must go on(line)

Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.

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