Calderdale’s Compassion Goes LARGE for National Refugee Week 2023.

“Our task must be to free ourselves – by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”- Albert Einstein

In celebration of National Refugee Week 2023, which runs between the 19th and 25th of June, local charity St Augustine’s worked in collaboration with Mytholmroyd-based company Sand In Your Eye to ensure compassion goes LARGE this year and share the message that Calderdale is a safe, welcoming and inclusive borough.

On Thursday 15th June, staff, volunteers and centre users attended workshops to spray paint flying birds, framing a wonderfully giant 50-metre square temporaryartwork painted on the grass.  The piece, created by Sand In Your Eye and commissioned by St Augustine’s Centre perfectly captured this year’s Refugee Week theme of compassion.

The artwork features two friends, Sobeda and Lucy, who live in Calderdale and met through the befriending project at St Augustine’s Centre. Sobeda is seeking asylum from Bangladesh, and Lucy is a nurse/carer. Their friendship shows the true essence of compassion and knows no boundaries.

According to Amnesty International, there are an estimated 26 million refugees worldwide, with half of these being children[1] often fleeing devastation in search of safety, making it imperative that we show kindness and humanity.

At around 6:30 pm, over 100 people from Calderdale joined together in solidarity to celebrate National Refugee Week and take pictures and videos via drone to showcase the stunning artwork created.

The land art was so impressive, BBC Look North was also in attendance and filmed a segment for their evening broadcast to showcase the efforts of everyone involved which can be viewed here: BBC Look North St Augustine’s

Sara Robinson, Centre Director at St Augustine’s said: “The event surpassed our expectations, the number of people that came out in solidarity was fantastic. No one is illegal, and we all deserve to live safely whomever we are.”

The evening was filled with fun, music, laughter, good food and an overall sense of community and togetherness. The ice lollies were flowing, children were playing and Calderdale once again made itself proud.

Earlier in the day, Councillor Jenny Lynn, cabinet member for public services and communities also got involved with the creativity and spray-painted the grass at Savile Park in support.

She said in a video posted by Calderdale Council on Twitter:

“It’s about using your own heart, and thinking about other people’s needs, to remember that in Calderdale we’re really lucky in the help that we can get and we’re here to extend a helping hand to people who have come here seeking security…we want it to be Refugee Week all around the year.”

Birds of compassion were also made to represent freedom, migration and unity, with the added help of pupils from 5 local schools.  The ‘flock’ were then displayed in an exhibition at a local arts organisation, Artworks.

If you’re interested in learning more about the amazing work of St. Augustine’s, please visit their website: St. Augustine’s Centre Halifax

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[1] Amnesty International: The World’s Refugees in Numbers