Hundreds turned out for annual Coventry Welcomes ‘Party in the Park’

Coventry celebrates 20 years of Refugee Week

Communities from across Coventry came together on Saturday 24 June to enjoy Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centres (CRMC) ‘Coventry Welcomes, Party in the Park.’

The day of live music, dance and martial arts performances, freshly cooked food, entertainment and games for all the family was part of week-long celebrations in the city with partners to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week.

Over 500 people attended the party which is now in its 13th year. Highlights included dancing by the Igbo community, martial arts performances by children, drumming workshops with CRMC’s Men’s Group and live musical performances by the Syrian, Slovakian and Afghan communities in Coventry.

Children giving a martial arts demonstration, were just one of several performances at Coventry Welcomes. Credit: Karima Haddi

Jan Malatesta, Service Development manager at CRMC was the main organiser for the event. Speaking directly afterwards she said: “Throughout Refugee Week and at Coventry Welcomes, communities from across Coventry have come out in their hundreds to recognise and celebrate the resilience, skills and contribution of those who have sought safety in this city.

“It’s been brilliant to see this support here today, in terms of both numbers and the diversity of people in attendance coming together as one to celebrate what we all have in common.

“This is exactly what this party and Refugee Week are all about; bringing different communities together to challenge misconceptions about refugees, and to raise awareness about the reality of seeking safety in the UK.

“Everyone involved this week has certainly done the city proud!”

Members of the CRMC’s Men’s Group – supported by The Coventry Destitution Fund – also performed on the drums and offered workshops throughout the day. Credit: Karima Haddi.

Mamajay Juliet also gave a poignant performance about those seeking safety that are currently kept in detention centres around the country, while Vanny Radio provided DJ sets, musical performances and hosting throughout the day. Freshly cooked food from Syria, Ireland and Afghanistan was also available to purchase with Vinci UK Foundation – supporters of CRMC’s relocation – also offering a range of delicious cakes. Also aiding the smooth running of the day were a number of wonderful volunteers from EnV; a community interest group in Coventry that manages and offers local volunteers for events.

Positive Youth Foundation was running sporting activities for children, while MiFriendly Cities, Coventry Libraries, Amnesty and British Red Cross ran information stalls. The Invisible Irish and Fab Lab ran a range of activities too, with Warwick and Coventry universities coming together to work on stained glass project on to which attendees could design messages of welcome.

Freshly cooked food touching on recipes from Syria, India, Afghanistan and Ireland was also on offer. Credit: Karima Haddi.

Media Mania also providing the staging, sound and some brilliant budding young musical performers throughout the day. The charity brings young people together in Coventry to offer a range of musically based activities and has supported ‘Coventry Welcomes, Party in the Park’ for years. This year’s support was the start of a three year project – and support for the party – called Bring The Noise which is funded by Youth Music and which will develop young people as musical performers and to provide experience of working back stage.

Media Mania – who have supported Coventry Welcomes for years – are currently running a number of free workshops for young people in the city. Details on how to get involved via the poster above.

Jan said: “This year’s party was an incredible success and we’ve absolutely loved seeing how both this celebration and wider activities for Refugee Week have continued to grow in the city this year.

“It is fantastic to see so many people and organisations from across the city coming out to welcome refugees and on behalf of CRMC, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those that have either supported or turned out this week.

“It promises to be an exciting few years in the build-up to being the city of culture in 2021; on this week’s response alone, it is easy to see why Coventry deservedly secured this.”

Almost £1500 was raised during the day for The Coventry Destitution Fund too. This fund supports those that are homeless in the city by providing essential items and support such as food and clothing. It was raised through various competitions and raffles during the party, with prizes generously donated by businesses and people from Coventry and beyond.

Crowds at Coventry Welcomes also enjoyed performances from the Igbo dancers. Credit: Karima Haddi.

Jan said: “A huge thank you to all those that donated prizes, which includes Twycross Zoo, The Albany Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, Planet Ice, Boots UK, Wasps Rugby, Sainsbury’s Nuneaton, The Entertainer, McDonalds, River Island, Sprinkles Gelato, Bagel Brunch, Sultan Restaurant, Jam Jam Boomerang, Sultan and Dash’s Barbershop.

“The funds raised through this will enable us to continue providing essential support to those in our city who urgently require it.”

Coventry Welcomes was just one of seven events run by partners throughout Refugee Week in the city. The partners were MiFriendly Cities, Positive Youth Foundation, Positive Images Festival and Fargo Village, with additional support from Penny Appeal and the Coventry 2021 team.

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