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Join us for Refugee Week in June

31 May 2018

The Open University is marking international Refugee Week 2018 (18-24 June) with a range of free events in Milton Keynes and London. The events include an art exhibition, talks and a film showing focused on the real experiences of people who have been forced to leave their country to find safety.

Refugee Week takes place every year across the world. In the UK, the week sees a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK. 

Marie Gillespie, Professor of Sociology and an expert on migration, said: “At The Open University, we work with refugees across a wide range of research projects and around the world and, wherever we work, we confront genuine need and deprivation due to inadequate protection and policies. We see first-hand the circumstances which refugees endure, what led them to leave their homes, as well as the ramifications that moving to a new country can have.

“Refugee Week serves to raise awareness of the problems refugees face and brings a much-needed spotlight onto their lives. We’ve put together a number of events for the week that will help the wider public understand not only the problems but also the vibrant networks of solidarity and support for refugees that are flourishing in civil society.  In so doing, we hope to prompt positive conversations about we can do as individuals, organisations and governments to challenge the current status quo.”

Events at The Open University’s Milton Keynes campus include:

Art exhibiton: 'Origami Art in Immigration Detention'
Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 June
The Open University Library, Walton Hall campus, Milton Keynes

Origami artworks designed by Chinese detainees in Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre, installation by Joanne Vincett, OU Faculty of Business and Law

Film screenings: Human Flow; An Asylum Seeker’s Story; They call us Maids
5:00pm, Tuesday 19 June
Berrill Lecture Theatre, The Open University, Walton Hall Campus, Milton Keynes

Human Flow (2 hours 20 minutes) Filmmaker Ai Weiwei examines the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.  Just before the main screening, we will be showing two short films, developed with input from OU academics: Dr Vita Terry and Dr Amy Charlesworth: ‘An asylum seeker’s story: Collective leadership in diverse communities’ (10 minutes) and ‘They call us Maids’ (10 minutes)

Events at The Open University’s London campus in Camden include:

Panel event: ‘Welcome to the Prison Island (Lesbos): immobilisation, solidarity, resistance’
6:30pm-8:00pm, Monday 18 June
Panel Event, Open University Camden Office

In the aftermath of the so-called "refugee crisis" and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, refugees have indefinitely been trapped on Lesbos Island. Speakers include: Professor Marie Gillespie from The Open University; activist, Fotini Mitsou; OU PhD students, Dimos Sarantidis and Evgenia Iliadou.

[for OU staff only] Documentary screening of 'The Crossing' and discussion with the film maker,
20 June (Wednesday), 10:00 - 11:00, OU Belfast

Conflicts and disasters displaced 30.6 million people in 2017  - the equivalent of 80,000 people each day.  In order to raise awareness of the plight of people who are forced to migrate, surrender their possessions, leave their families and embark on a new life in a new country with a new language, During the hour, an extraordinary documentary style short film, The Crossing, will be shown which follows the journey of musician Joby Fox on his mission to make a difference to migrants and refugees making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Joby will be joining the event for a post film discussion on his experiences, along with other local community representatives. OU staff can register by emailing: laura.dowie@open.ac.uk

Panel Event: 'Refuge or detention? Challenging the hostile reception of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK'
21 June (Thursday), 18:30 - 20:00, Acorn House, Milton Keynes Community Foundation
While each asylum seeker and refugee has an individual story, they share the hope to find a place of hospitality rather than hostility. In this panel, former detainees and representatives from the legal, academic and voluntary/third sectors discuss the social injustices faced by many of those in immigration detention, particularly those seeking asylum. Panel members include: A former detainee from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre; Patrick Page, Duncan Lewis Solicitors Public Law Department and No Walls Editor; Joanne Vincett, The Open University and Yarl's Wood Befrienders; Chair: Dr Fidele Mutwarasibo, The Open University and MK Community Foundation

For more information and to book places for the events, see The Open University’s Refugee Week website.

The Open University’s series of knowledge exchange events during Refugee Week is supported by the Higher Education Innovation Funding.

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