Upcoming Events

REFUGEES WELCOME RALLY

London

4.30-6.30pm, 20 October 2021

Find out more here

Right now, women, children and men fleeing war, persecution and conflict need our support. Yet just when the UK needs to uphold its commitments to refugees, in October the new Nationality and Borders Bill moves closer to becoming law. This bill will make it harder than ever for people who come here to seek safety.

The government has committed to take 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years. But that isn’t enough, and lacks the necessary urgency. While we are hearing accounts of mothers throwing their babies over razor wire in desperation in the face of the horrors facing them under the Taliban, the UK government plans to make people wait years for resettlement, and to imprison any who manage to flee to the UK by other means.
We can and must do more to welcome refugees, and not just Afghans. Everyone who crosses borders for safety should be given a fair hearing and a chance to rebuild their lives.

We know that our communities can be generous and welcoming and that many people want to do more for those who come here for safety. Through this rally, we want to show the Government that we oppose this Bill, and that we want to live in a humane and welcoming society.

If you agree, join us on 20th October 4.30 to 6.30pm outside Parliament. Hear from refugees and add your voice to the movement to welcome them. The event is for everyone who cares about the rights of people to seek asylum, and we ask you to bring your own banners with your own message! Every one of us has a part to play now. Every one of us can make this country a more welcoming place.

Past Events

Refugee Week Market – Beckenham Place Mansion

19 June 2021, 10am – 4pm

Find out more here

We are delighted to be part of the grand finale of Lewisham’s Refugee Week events! Join us at Beckenham Place Mansion for a day of arts, crafts, music, food, fun and community. There will be market stalls with refugee creatives and organisations who work with them, plus a programme of workshops and live music throughout the afternoon.

Come say hi at our stall and make sure you catch members of our drama group as they share poetry and songs!

Find out more here.

HOME? Curated by Noma Dumezweni

Online, 14 – 20 June

Find out more here

HOME? curated by actor and refugee-child Noma Dumezweni, brings together global voices, stories and experiences to mark Refugee Week 2021 (14–20 Jun) across three new commissions, created in collaboration with refugee artists.

The series of world premiere monologues will celebrate and recognise those who have sought safety from their homes, their place within our collective community and the journey that it took to get there, including Then and Now written by our Founder and Creative Projects Adviser, Natasha Walter.

Find out more and watch online here.

A dystopian present? The state of UK immigration system

Wednesday 23 June, 6pm

Register here

Join us for a screening of ‘City of Lost Children’, a near-future dystopia set in a refugee camp for children.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of experts of the UK’s immigration system, including Agnes Tanoh, our Detention Campaign Spokesperson, and Olivia Namutebi, member of our London network and a representative of the Sisters Not Strangers coalition.

Find out more and sign up to attend here.

Lewisham Refugee Week Film Night

16 June 2021

We joined Refugee Cafe to share a selection of short films to celebrate Refugee Week 2021, alongside a Q&A with some of the refugee artists involved in creating the pieces.

We showcased three musical pieces created by members of our drama group, in partnership with the Breakfast Club and the Barbican Culture Mile, inspired by the American writer, feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde.

Detention is a Feminist Issue

16 June 2021

On 16 June, with René Cassin, we held an evening of knowledge building and action as part of Refugee Week 2021. During the course of the evening we showcased some unique archival material on Jewish women in immigration detention, heard some contemporary poetry written by women with experience of detention and took part in solidarity action together.

No ‘New Plan for Immigration’ Without Us!

15 and 27 April 2021

On 15 and 27 April, we ran workshops together with members of the Sisters Not Strangers coalition to support people to respond to the public consultation on this Government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’. This new plan will make it even harder for women to find safety in the UK.

The friendly workshops were a chance to support one another to ensure that our voices and views could be reflected in this consultation.

When Priti Patel introduced these new plans in Parliament she said: “We should ask ourselves: where are the vulnerable women… that this system should exist to protect?”

Well, we’re here. We know what it is like to have to cross borders in search of safety. We know that these proposals are only going to make things worse. Priti Patel’s words hurt because the Home Office does not listen to us.

The asylum process IS broken. But to fix it, we need more humanity, not less.

Thousands of people up and down the country responded to the consultation, many of them highlighting why this plan is so dangerous for women.

Sisters Not Strangers: A Call to Action

25 March 2021, 4pm

Over 200 people joined us to hear from the women who make up the Sisters Not Strangers Coalition and to take action alongside us. You can watch the event recording here.

The Sisters Not Strangers coalition is made up of eight UK-based organisations that support asylum-seeking women. Launched last spring, we came together to campaign against destitution and other hostile asylum and immigration policies. We are the first nationwide coalition led by refugee women for refugee women.

In July, we published vital research on the harsh realities asylum-seeking women have faced during the pandemic, which was reported widely in major media outlets. While we continue pushing for refugee women to be protected during the outbreak, we are now also concerned about Home Office proposals to limit asylum appeals and new claims. These changes would have a harmful impact on women fleeing war and violence, such that those with a clear claim to protection would be refused refuge in our country. We must act now, and work together, to stop these changes from becoming law.

Following on from this event, on 15 April, we will run a workshop to support individuals to respond to the Home Office public consultation on its new plans for the asylum process. Join us and ensure that refugee and asylum-seeking women’s views are amplified within this consultation!

Refugee Protection: A feminist way forward

International Women’s Day 2021, 8 March, 4pm

This International Women’s Day, we were joined by prominent refugee women leaders Alphonsine Kabagabo, Marchu Girma and Zrinka Bralo for a lively discussion chaired by Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu on our feminist vision for a supportive and humane asylum process.

Refugee protection is a feminist issue. Seventy years ago, the Refugee Convention was born in international recognition of the fact that some people need to move to seek protection from persecution. It was written by men and it did not consider the unique experiences of women who need to cross borders to seek safety – we were forgotten. Today, it is still difficult for women to get a fair hearing. Because of this, the women we work with are too often disbelieved, made hungry and homeless, and locked up in immigration detention.

The government has said it will ‘overhaul’ the asylum process this year. This should be good news, because the current process is inhumane and doesn’t work. But, the Home Office has shared hostile and hateful ideas that don’t consider women’s needs and threaten to make it even harder for women to find safety in the UK. We need to hear refugee and asylum-seeking women’s solutions.

We must stand with our sisters. We will not be forgotten again.

Watch the recording here

A Window Into Our Lives

Launch event: Tuesday 9 June, 5pm

On 9 June, we opened our new digital photography exhibition, ‘A window into our lives’.

The exhibition features photography by five asylum-seeking women in London who have documented their experiences of destitution through their own eyes.

During the live 30-minute event we heard from refugee women, our director Natasha Walter, and our special guests Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Noma Dumezweni and Sheila Atim, as we shared poetry, photography and sisterhood. You can watch a recording of the event here.

Asylum-seeking women’s experiences very often go unseen and unheard. It takes courage to share these stories, but as the members of our drama group say, “History remembers those who record their lived experience.”

These stories need to be heard. These stories need to be shared.

View the exhibition here.

Circles of Sisterhood

International Women’s Day | Sunday 8 March

Everywhere!

On International Women’s Day refugee women’s groups and their supporters gathered in ten cities across the UK to sing in solidarity with refugee women, because we are #SistersNotStrangers.

Our deputy director, Marchu Girma, said: “This International Women’s Day, women seeking asylum invited us to sing in solidarity with them across the nation, and help them amplify their voice.  At Women for Refugee Women, we have seen how their potential for a new start in life has been swept away from them, and women who have fled rape and violence to seek safety in the UK are being left homeless, hungry and vulnerable to further abuse because of lack of support.  These incredibly resilient women are rising up to demand for a just and humane asylum process.”

National Refugee Women’s Conference

10.30am – 6pm, 14 February 2020

The Church at Carrs Lane, Birmingham, B4 7SX

Everyone should have a safe place to stay and a chance to thrive in the UK. But women seeking safety in the UK are instead facing new dangers from destitution. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. No one in the UK should be destitute. Join the movement for change!

At the third National Refugee Women’s Conference, this time in Birmingham, we came together for an inspiring programme of workshops, discussions and performances to build our energy and skills to create change. The conference was hosted by Women with Hope, WAST ManchesterCARAGRefugee Women ConnectWomen for Refugee Women and other grassroots groups.

We launched new research that documents the experiences of over 100 destitute asylum-seeking women. This evidence shows that destitution is a deliberate policy designed to harm vulnerable women and prevent them from rebuilding their lives with dignity.

Refugee Week 2019: “A Day in Our Lives”

4pm, 23 June 2019

Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer, Southbank Centre, London, SE1 8XX

Photo: Jimena Mancilla

A large crowd joined us at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 23 June for a performance by refugee women in our network about their daily lives.

History remembers the lives of those who record their lived experiences: in this poetic performance of words and song, the Women for Refugee Women Drama Group shared their experiences of life here in the UK.

Opening in the 4am shadows, our refugee and asylum-seeking cast showed the audience what a typical 24 hour day might bring for them, giving snapshots that were often painful but which also shine with resilience and hope.

Rainbow Sisters, our group for lesbian and bisexual asylum-seeking women, also performed. Members come from many of the approximately 70 countries around the world that still criminalise being LGBT+.

#ChooseLove x A Mile in My Shoes

14-23 June 2019

3 Newburgh St, Carnaby, London W1F 7RE

A shoe shop with a difference!

Choose Love x A Mile in My Shoes offered a human experience where visitors could momentarily step into the shoes of a refugee living in London.

Vivian and Consilia, both members of our network, recorded their stories of seeking safety in the UK and donated their shoes as part of the exhibition.

From the Friday 14th June until Sunday 23rd June, visitors had the chance to borrow a pair of shoes belonging to a refugee and take a walk while listening to a first-hand story of their life.

That’s not my name!

3pm, 5 June 2019

George Wood Theatre, Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW

Our drama group ran a workshop on how people with lived experience can lead campaigns and creative projects that aim to create change.

Devising new futures: a performance and discussion workshop led by women from the WRW Drama Group

How can those with lived experience of seeking asylum take centre stage at the heart of our activities? Join us for games, discussion, poetry and song in a workshop where we’ll explore how we can build respect and understanding in arts projects as we work together towards social change.

Dance for Refuge

8 March 2019
Parties in London and Manchester

Women for Refugee Women News Events Dance for Refuge

Dance for Refuge hosted International Women’s Day parties in London and Manchester to raise funds for our work.

Dance for Refuge have been running club nights for the past 3 years, raising and donating money to charities that specialise in helping areas that have been affected by the refugee crisis.

Her Stories

Events throughout October and November
Various locations in London

Women for Refugee Women Events Her Stories

This year Her Stories, a collective of female creatives and organisers, supported us, Maternity Action and Ella’s Home with our work empowering and supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women.

Her Stories put on a phenomenal programme of events enabling audiences to hear directly from, and support, women at the sharp end of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policies. Through these events, including an auction of female artists work, Her Stories raised over £60,000 to be split between the three charities.

We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in Her Stories for their support which will make such a huge difference to our work.

For further information please visit the Her Stories website

Performance and Discussion

9 October 2018
Hatchette UK

Women for Refugee Women Events Performance and Discussion

Our drama group, Refugee Women’s Voice, performed their own poetry on what it means to be a woman seeking safety in the UK. The performance was followed by a panel discussion about our work with our director Natasha Walter and grassroots empowerment team members Marchu Girma and Monica Aidoo, chaired by Lennie Goodings (Chair of Virago Press). The event was generously hosted and supported by the publisher Hachette UK.

Bring the Noise

13 July 2018
Hatchette UK

Women for Refugee Women Events Bring the Noise

We joined Women’s March London for their inclusive, positive and women-led #BringTheNoise demo to resist Trump’s divisiveness.

With our drums, songs and chants of ‘Set Her Free’ we made a lot of noise and made sure that refugee women’s voices were heard.

Two women from our network performed poetry about their experiences on the main stage, and our grassroots director Marchu Girma read a statement from women detained inside Yarl’s Wood.

My Body Is / My Body Is Not

29 June 2018
Southbank Centre, London

Women for Refugee Women Events My Body Is

Our drama group, Refugee Women’s Voice, hosted an informal showcase of their new creative project: “my body is / my body is not” at the Southbank Centre.

The performance explored the following questions about womanhood and our bodies:

What memories do our bodies hold?
Who makes the decisions about our bodies?
Where does the bravery of saying no lead us?

Thank you to everyone who came along to listen and be inspired by the performance.

Processions

10 June 2018
London

Women for Refugee Women Events Processions

On 10 June, we joined PROCESSIONS in London as part of their living portrait of women in the 21st Century.

The women in our network have been created a beautiful banner calling for safety, dignity and liberty for women, with embroidery artist Jess de Wahls.

PROCESSIONS celebrated the centenary of some women’s suffrage in the UK. You can read about how the suffragettes continue to inspire refugee women here.

Actions at Kettle’s Yard

10 February – 6 May 2018
Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, Castle Street, Cambridge, CB3 0AQ

Women for Refugee Women Events All Women Count

Five refugee and asylum-seeking women in our network welcomed the artist Caroline Walker into their lives to visit the places where they are staying.

Caroline Walker produced a collection of paintings exploring the concept of ‘home’, that were exhibited for the re-opening of Kettle’s Yard in Actions. The image of the world can be different.

24 April: Our director Natasha Walter, Abi (a woman in our network who featured in the paintings) and Caroline Walker spoke about what art can do as a tool for empowerment and awareness raising.

All Women Count – Refugee and Migrant Lobby

8 March 2018
Parliament, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Actions of Kettles Yard

Over 200 refugee and migrant women went to Parliament on International Women’s Day 2018 to demand safety, dignity and liberty for all women.

The event featured an all refugee and migrant women line-up of speakers who shared their personal experiences of injustice and exploitation, and called on MPs and Peers to act.

Find out more: www.allwomencount.co.uk #AllWomenCount

Time’s Up Rally

21 February 2018
Parliament, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Times Up Rally

Our Grassroots Director, Marchu Girma, spoke alongside one of the refugee women in our network at the Time’s Up Rally on the anniversary of the Women’s March.

They said loud and clear that #TimesUp on silencing, disbelieving and discriminating against women who have crossed borders in search of safety.

Welcome Cinema and Kitchen

28 November 2017 at 6pm
Amnesty UK, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Screening of Suffragette

We held a very special screening of Suffragette with the Welcome Cinema on 28th November, 6pm.

Actress Romola Garai opened the evening, introducing the film which documents women’s struggle for representation in the UK. After the film, refugee women in our network sat on a panel with the director, Sarah Gavron, to answer questions and discuss the ongoing battle for ALL women to be heard in politics today.

National Refugee Women’s Conference

4 November 2017
Manchester

Women for Refugee Women Events National Refugee Womens Conference

Women for Refugee Women and WAST Manchester co-hosted the National Refugee Women’s Conference in Manchester, to build solidarity, energy and action.

There was music, dancing and performance to lift your hearts. Speakers included: Kate Green MP, Aderonke Apata, Mariam Yusuf and Farhat Khan from WAST Manchester, Natasha Walter and Marchu Girma from Women for Refugee Women.

Refugee and asylum seeking women and supporters came together to discuss:

  1. The campaign against detention: where now?
    Since 2014, the campaign against detaining asylum seeking women in the UK has been strong. How do we push forwards to create genuine change?
  2. Destitution: what can we do?
    More and more asylum seeking and refugee women are being left destitute due to refusal of support. Let’s map out how we can move forwards and campaign on this issue.
  3. Solidarity: how can we build a stronger network for refugee women? Particularly, let’s do some imaginative work around International Women’s Day 2018 to take action to end destitution and detention.

Women for Refugee Women

12 July 2017
Serpentine Pavillion

Women for Refugee Women Events Arts and Drama Workshop

On 12th July, we performed at an event in the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Frances Kéré, co-hosted by refugee kitchen Mazi Mas.

Our wonderful drama group performed some of their own work and then our director Natasha Walter and grassroots co-ordinator Marchu Girma led a discussion about how we can build solidarity with refugee women through arts and drama.

Photo: Luca Marziale and Jon Harris

Hear Her Singing

2 July 2017
Southbank Centre, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Hear her Singing

“Encounter perspectives from women refugees in the UK through film portraits of song and storytelling.”

Hear Her Singing is a project by Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai which takes the universal nature of song to create a platform for women refugees in the UK. The Southbank Centre put on a 2 week-long exhibition of Tsai’s film portraits, which showed the result of singing and storytelling workshops with women detained in Yarl’s Wood and the refugee and asylum seeking women in our network.

On 24th July, we performed at the Big Sing, teaching the crowds at the Southbank Centre the songs that were part of this project.

We Had a Busy Refugee Week 2017

19 – 24 June 2017

Women for Refugee Women Events Refugee Week

19th June – Help Refugees launched Refugee Week at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Our Director, Natasha Walter, spoke on a panel about the reality of the asylum seeking process.

22nd June – Different Pasts/Shared Future event at Goldsmiths
Marchu Girma, our Grassroots Coordinator, spoke on a panel with other activists about shaping a future of respect, equality and compassion for refugees.

23rd June – Feminist Emergency Conference at Birkbeck University
Marchu led a discussion with refugee women about their experiences of the UK asylum system, and how feminists can stand in solidarity with us and campaign for refugee women’s rights. Refugee women from our network performed some of their own poetry.

24th June – Brexit Conference
Marchu was joined by two of the women in our network to speak on a panel about the effect of Brexit on refugees and asylum seekers.

24th June – Dead [Women] Poets Society at the Poetry Cafe
Samantha Hudson, our Communications Executive, joined the Dead [Women] Poets Society for a special Refugee Week event with a line up of fantastic poets.

Women’s Great Get Together

17 July 2017
Southbank Centre, London

Women for Refugee Women Events The Great Get Together

We hosted a Women’s Great Get Together, in memory of Jo Cox, to bring women from different backgrounds together to share food, stories and music.

The event celebrated our sisterhood and started new, positive conversations about our shared future.

As Jo Cox said, “We have more in common than that which divides us”.

Surround Yarl’s Wood

13 May 2017
Yarl’s Wood, Twinwood Rd, Bedford

Women for Refugee Women Events Surround Yarls Wood

Refugee and asylum seeking women from our network joined Movement for Justice’s Surround Yarl’s Wood demo on Saturday 13 May.

You can see why ending the detention of asylum seekers is important to them here (add link).

National Refugee Women’s Conference

1 March 2017
London

Women for Refugee Women Events National Refugee Womens Conference

The second National Refugee Women’s Conference, organised by Women for Refugee Women and the London Refugee Women’s Forum.

Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) opened the conference.The conference closed with a performance from Yasmin Kadi, singer-songwriter and refugee.

Kate Osamor MP (Labour) and Richard Fuller MP (Conservative) spoke about their support for women seeking asylum.

Our inspiring refugee women speakers included Mina Jaf (Women Refugee Route), Mariam Yusuf (Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester), Zrinka Bralo (Migrants Organise) and Marchu Girma (Women for Refugee Women). Other speakers included Hannah Pool, Nimco Ali, and Kat Banyard.

As the Set Her Free campaign enters its fourth year, we gathered to plan, build solidarity, and campaign with refugee women. We also launched Women for Refugee Women’s new research on alternatives to detention, exploring how we can build a better, fairer, asylum system.

Read our blog about the day here.

#March4Women

5 March 2017
London

Women for Refugee Women were an official partner of CARE International on their fifth annual #March4Women. This year’s theme was Refugee Women.
Kick-starting a month of action for a more equal world, CARE’s annual celebration to mark International Women’s Day saw everyone – women, men, girls, boys and people of all genders and identities – come together for a day of inspiration and entertainment.

Listen to the Women

13 September 2016
London

Women for Refugee Women Events Listen to the Women

An inspiring evening of refugee women’s voices and experiences, featuring musicians Yasmin Kadi and Eliza Shaddad; actresses Juliet Stevenson, Tanya Moodie and Anne-Marie Duff reading refugee women’s testimonies; the London Refugee Women’s Forum performing their own poetry; and a panel with Yvette Cooper MP, Heidi Allen MP, and Radio 4’s Jane Garvey.

Refugee Women London Feminist Film Festival

19 August 2016
Rio Cinema, Dalston, London

Women for Refugee Women Events London Feminist Film Festival

Our short animated film Set Her Free: Margaret’s Story premiered at London Feminist Film Festival, as part of an evening of short films about refugee women’s experiences.

This short animation, produced by Women for Refugee Women and directed by Priya Sundram, highlights the experiences of refugee women, many of whom have survived sexual violence and torture, who are detained in Yarl’s Wood. It tells the story of one woman, Margaret, who suffers political persecution, imprisonment, rape, and torture in her home country, before fleeing to the UK on a false passport to claim asylum. She is escorted to Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where she is locked up. The animation highlights the parallels between Yarl’s Wood and her previous imprisonment in her home country, and how detention forces her to relive her trauma.

The film screening was followed by a panel discussion, featuring WRW’s Sarah Graham and ex-detainee Ntombi. Watch and share the film at: https://youtu.be/bA5irTWLixg

Encampment

4 August 2016
South Bank, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Encampment

Marchu, Rehab and Jade joined Good Chance Theatre in their Encampment dome for a panel discussion, chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, on why refugee women and their stories are often unseen and unheard.

Women and War Festival

6 July 2016
Streatham Hill Theatre, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Women and War Festival

Members of the London Refugee Women’s Forum performed their poems Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free, followed by a panel discussion with Jade Amoli-Jackson, Rahela Sidiqi, Rehab Jameel, and drama teacher Rebecca Laughton, chaired by communications executive Sarah Graham. Many thanks to Women and War Festival for generously donating the proceeds from this event to support our work.

Crossing Borders Festival

20 June 2016
Brighton

Women for Refugee Women Events National Refugee Womens Conference

On World Refugee Day, members of the London Refugee Women’s Forum performed their poems Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free at a lunchtime concert by Brighton and Hove Interfaith Choir, as part of the week-long Crossing Borders Festival. The performance also gave us a lovely excuse for a day-trip to Brighton with members of Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) London – and even some wind-swept fun on the beach once the rain cleared up!

Refugees Welcome

19 June 2016
Southbank Centre, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Refugees Welcome

We were proud to open the Refugee Week celebrations at London’s Southbank Centre with poetry performances by London Refugee Women’s Forum. The women performed their own poems, Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free. WAST London member Ntombi also led her African dance troupe Nyakaza in a lively performance of traditional songs and dance.

Parliamentary Event on the Detention of Pregnant Women

22 March 2016
Parliament, London

Women for Refugee Women Events Detention of Pregnant Women

In partnership with Bhatt Murphy and Medical Justice, and hosted by Caroline Spelman MP (Conservatives), we organised a Parliamentary event to discuss the need to end the detention of pregnant women.

We were joined by speakers Stephen Shaw (author of the Home Office commissioned review into welfare of vulnerable detainees), Louise Silverton (Royal College of Midwives), Stephanie Harrison QC (Garden Court Chambers), and a refugee woman who was detained while pregnant. You can read more about this event on our blog.

International Women’s Day protest

8 March 2016
Outside the Home Office, London

Women for Refugee Women Events International Womens Day Protest

We gathered to celebrate and demonstrate on International Women’s Day, along with a host of brilliant female performers and speakers.

More than 100 people, including 50+ refugee women, joined us to send a strong message to Home Secretary Theresa May: It is time to SET HER FREE!

Find out more and check out some of the brilliant photos from the day on our blog.

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