The Museum was delighted to take part in Amersham’s first celebration of national Refugee Week in 2023. Refugee Week is the world’s largest arts & culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Founded in 1998 in the UK, it is held every year around World Refugee Day which is on the 20 June.
Trustee and local historian Alison Bailey gave a talk ‘Destination Amersham. How Amersham has always been a haven for refugees’ on Monday 19 June, which told the stories past and present of people coming to this area. From ‘aliens’ in the 1440s to recent arrivals, it was fascinating to hear the individual accounts and reflect on the constant themes across the centuries.
On Saturday 24 June, St Michael’s Square in Amersham-on-the-Hill was treated to a wonderful array of music and dance, storytelling and foods from Syria and Ukraine. We were able to enjoy music and dance from the Ankara School of Dance who showed us a brilliant display of Indian Classical Dance. We also saw Ukrainian dancing as well as some beautiful singing from children which led to an impromptu dance from visitors around the Square, such a great community spirit. It really felt that the whole town had come out to celebrate the event and it was good to see so many people involved who wanted to find out more how Amersham had helped refugees both in the past and currently.
Home-made treats created by Syrian and Ukrainian families and cakes sold in support of Care4Calais were enjoyed by all. The Museum’s storyboards and story-telling from Monica Bartlett and Rabbi Neil Janes allowed guests to learn about individual stories of Amersham residents from refugee backgrounds, whilst children were able to learn about famous refugees on a scavenger hunt.
We were delighted to be joined by MP Sarah Green, Mayor Elizabeth Shepherd and Councillor Parveiz Aslam who all enjoyed the activities.
This was the first such event that Amersham has hosted and was able to happen due to the organisation of Amersham Museum, Rotate, Chiltern Welcomes, Equaliteach and the Amersham Action Group. From the overwhelming positive response that we received from people we very much hope to make it an annual event for the Amersham Community.
The team would like to thank Amersham Action Group, Chesham Bois Paris Council and Amersham Rotary for their financial support to enable this event to go ahead and help our refugee bakers to fund their stalls.
If you attended the event and would like to provide feedback to help us to plan next year’s event, please complete this short online survey here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/T5GP3U/