Jo Cox herself was passionate about supporting refugees and her message that we have ‘more in common’ is a powerful way to bridge divides among different groups in communities.Bea Forrester of Reset Communities for Refugees
In collaboration with the Jo Cox Foundation, Reset Communities for Refugees hosted a picnic in Folkestone, Kent on Saturday 17 June. This picnic was based on the CommuniTeas events that Reset ran earlier this year, which involved having tea parties around the country to promote conversations about welcoming refugees to communities.
“We wanted to participate in the Great Get Together to kick start our Refugee Week activities. It felt like a fantastic collaboration to put on a picnic in Folkestone – a Great Get Together to start Refugee Week to promote conversations of refugee welcome! Jo Cox herself was passionate about supporting refugees and her message that we have ‘more in common’ is a powerful way to bridge divides among different groups in communities” says Bea Forrester from Reset Communities for Refugees.
Bea continues; “ We invited a range of people from the local community, some of whom had refugee status, and people interested in creating welcoming spaces. When we arrived to set up, it started to rain so we were worried no one would turn up! But as it turned to 1pm and people started arriving, the sun managed to appear and it became a beautifully sunny day.”
More than 50 people, from a wide range of organisations and local community groups attended the event. People brought food and drinks, there were all sorts on offer from fantastic salads to homemade baklava and cakes!
“We were so pleased that the people of Folkestone came out to celebrate the message of welcome, as it has been a central place in the conversation of displacement,” says Bea. “Folkestone has a vibrant and supportive community and we had a wonderful group of people come to chat, eat and kick start a brilliant Refugee Week”.
The event shone a light on the ways in which people can get involved with refugee welcome. There were conversations about Community Sponsorship, a programme that gets a community together to find a house, raise money and discover local connections to be matched with a family identified by the UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) who will then be resettled into that community. Homes for Ukraine was another subject spoken about, which allows people with spare rooms in their homes to welcome Ukrainians for a minimum of 6 months. Both of these schemes need more volunteers and communities to get involved, as there are still many people who are in desperate need of safety.
The event was supported by a range of organisations including; Eden Project Communities, Folkestone Fringe, Folkestone Mosque, Shepway Green Party, Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party, Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats, Napier Friends and Origins Untold.
Bea said the event was a great success, “We were so pleased with the conversations and turnout of this picnic, and cannot wait to do more in the future! It was great to be part of the Great Get Together celebrations nationwide to bring communities together and celebrate what unites us all.”