Leigh residents share their stories for Refugee Week

Leigh residents share their stories for Refugee Week

Refugee week at Leigh Market Hall-1

Councillor Wakefield with Shupikai, Tabeth and Farai from Everything Human Rights.

Two Wigan Borough residents who originally come from Zimbabwe will share their fascinating life experiences as part of Refugee Week.

Esnath Sanangura and Shupikai Muchineuta, who originally came to the borough more than 18 years ago, will see their life stories on display as part of an exhibition set up by Wigan Council and local community group, Everything Human Rights.

Children of local refugee families have been working with The Turnpike, Leigh, and Manchester based artist, Ibukun Baldwin, to create artwork on the theme for the week, ‘We cannot walk alone,’ which will also form part of the exhibition in Leigh Market Hall.

Refugee Week (June 14th - 20th), is a UK wide initiative, which aims to celebrate the stories of refugees and the contributions they make to our society.

Councillor Paula Wakefield, Lead Member for Equalities at Wigan Council, said:

“There are sometimes misunderstandings about refugees and why they may have come to the borough.

“We hope Refugee Week will help to raise awareness about some of the reasons why people might have to leave their home countries and some of the challenges they might face when seeking safety.”

The theme for the week, ‘We cannot walk alone’, has been inspired by Martin Luther King’s historic speech during the American Civil Rights Movement in the 60s when he talked about how the futures of both Black and White people were intertwined.

Coun Wakefield added: “The pandemic has shown us all how interconnected we are across the world. The wellbeing of all of us depends on the welfare, safety, and efforts of others.

“Refugee Week encourages us all to find out more about someone new, someone outside your current circle, and to listen to their story and share yours.

“By doing this we can build understanding and hopefully a better future for us all.”

Leigh community group, Everything Human Rights, was set up to support residents who have come to the borough from across the world.

Children and young people who attend the organisation’s youth group explored stories of migration to the UK before retelling elements of the stories through their art.

Artist Ibukun Baldwin, who led the art project in partnership with The Turnpike, specialises in visual and social arts.

She said: “Art can be a fantastic method to communicate a lot of information in a way that’s simple to absorb.

“We hope that when people see the children’s artwork, they will get a glimpse into the stories behind it.”

Ruth, 15, took part in the art workshops.

She said: “In this art project we’ve been helping some of the younger kids understand about some of the inequalities in the world.

“Refugee Week is really important because lots of people might have an idea in their minds about what it’s like to be a refugee, but they might not really understand.”

Joseph, 15, added: “It’s been a good way for us to express emotions. “Art is also fun and easy for others to look at. “Some people might be oblivious to what other people in their community might have been through. So this is a good week to try and understand.”

The exhibition will be available to view in Leigh Market Hall from Tuesday 15th until Monday 21st June.

You can also read Esnath and Shupikai’s stories and find out more about Refugee Week.

Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
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