What is Refugee Week?

World Refugee Day is 20 June, and every year the UK celebrates Refugee Week around this date. 

This programme of cultural events, sport, community arts, and education highlights refugees’ unique contributions to national and local culture. It also aims to create dialogue and understanding about why people flee their homeland in search of safety and seek asylum abroad.  

By holding lots of different, fun events throughout the country, Refugee Week brings asylum seekers together with other members of the general public. Film screenings, football matches, public talks, and theatre performances – these are just some of the events you can take part in over the course of the week. Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, so if you have an idea for an event, there are plenty of ways to get involved.

Refugee Week was established in 1988 to counter negative depictions of refugees in the media, and to overcome community objections. The events and educational opportunities of the programme are now an annual highlight for people all over the country. It is operated by Counterpoints Arts in partnership with UNHCR, the British Red Cross, the National Education Union, Refugee Action, Oxfam, and many other national and international organisations.

The guiding principles of Refugee Week 2023

More than anything, Refugee Week aims to showcase the talents and contributions of refugees. While no one should feel like they need to prove themselves, it’s important to give people the space to demonstrate their unique skills and stories.

It's open to everyone

Everyone can take part, and organisers aim to remove all barriers to participation. 

There is a bigger 'us'

While everyone has their own experiences and differing access to power and resources, everyone can come together to create an interconnected ‘us.’ 

There is power in the arts

Arts and cultural events can help people understand other perspectives and give them insight into refugees’ experiences. 

A platform for stories

Refugee Week provides a platform for people to share their unique stories.  


Whenever possible, leadership on refugee initiatives should come from people who have relevant lived experience.  

A diverse group

Refugees are not a single entity every refugee has their own experience based on their age, gender, class, race, and sexuality. No one narrative speaks to their diverse experiences.

To celebrate this year’s Refugee Week, UK for UNHCR has a whole host of activities. Visit our Refugee Week 2023 page to find out more.  

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