UNHCR links up with Devon groups to showcase refugee support

 On June 26 UNHCR will be joining refugee support groups in Exeter to celebrate the area’s centuries-old tradition of welcoming  people forced to flee.

 © UNHCR/Refugee Support Devon

The day will bring the community together and invite visitors to learn about the county’s longstanding tradition of offering sanctuary to those in need. 

Refugee Support Devon are hosting the event as they mark 10 years of working together to create a welcoming environment for refugees. The organisation’s vision is of a county where anyone who has been forced to flee from their homes can find the protection they need, rebuild their lives in safety and dignity, and achieve their full potential.  

With a team of seven staff members and more than 80 volunteers they are a genuine community organisation. 

Visitors will have the chance to walk inside a UNHCR tent used in some situations as emergency shelter for refugee families. The tent will house some images from Ties That Bind, our series on community-led refugee resettlement to the UK. 

The exhibition will focus on Syrian families across the country, including one that was welcomed in nearby Ottery St Mary. The local community came together to raise money, prepare for the family’s arrival and then help them settle in. Hani and Ameh, who came to Devon in 2018, told UNHCR that they were treated like family, helping them to move on from the pain of the past. Their youngest child Mary was even named after their new home town. 

The morning begins with the symbolic re-enactment of the arrival by boat of Huguenots escaping persecution in France in the 17th century.  Talks, music and dance throughout the day reflect all aspects of the way generations of migrants and refugees have transformed Exeter and its surroundings into the multicultural community it is today.  

UNHCR will join experts to discuss the history of refuge in area and more globally, from the Huguenots to the modern day to understand how local action can have a positive impact on a truly global problem. 

Hundreds of people turned out at Exeter Cathedral in 2015  to show solidarity with refugees at a time when concerns about UK arrivals was at its height. © Refugee Support Devon

Everyone is welcome to attend. Events take place at The Transit Shed, Exeter Quay, Saturday 26 June 2021, 11:00 – 17:00