Baytree understands the importance of providing aid and service to those who have newly arrived in the UK. Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts/cultural/educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK, promoting better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. The theme this year is healing, which places a focus on engaging in mutual care and having meaningful conversations with one another in our communities. In celebration of Refugee Week, the Baytree Centre highlights the work we continue to do in support of women, girls and families seeking refuge within our local and wider community.
Refugee Week is significant in celebrating the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees alongside people seeking sanctuary. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baytree Centre hosted numerous events in celebration of Refugee Week, festivities creating a platform for refugees to share their own personal experiences. Refugee Week allows women and girls from Baytree’s various services to showcase their own talents, from performing plays to exhibiting art. In 2019, Baytree’s celebration of Refugee Week saw a powerful speech given by a student, detailing her personal experiences of how she was welcomed and supported into the UK by Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees (HHWR) and the Baytree Centre.
Baytree’s services, such as ESOL provision and the Into-School Programme, specifically cater to refugees, facilitating the transition of newly arrived women and girls into life in the UK alongside the UK education system. Our ESOL provision provides women and girls the opportunity to improve their English and literacy skills, with the help of our highly dedicated team of tutors. Baytree’s Into-School programme also caters to newly arrived girls, offering support to them in securing a space at school and assigning each girl a mentor, who helps in whatever way possible, from applications to advice.
In recent months, our charity partner, the Wonder Foundation, has played an instrumental role in welcoming Ukrainian refugees into the UK, alongside helping support Ukrainians in Poland. Through our partnership, we aim to welcome and help facilitate emergency and long-term support to Ukrainians affected by a devastating conflict. We recently welcomed Ukrainian students to our programmes at Baytree. They enjoyed seeing both their own and other cultures being celebrated and felt comfortable in our environment.
We had a celebration and awarded certificates to the women who had passed their ESOL exams. It was a nice get together especially after the pandemic where we could fully embrace friendship, community and be in solidarity with each other. The women discussed what healing meant to them and shared ideas about what helps them on their journey of recovery while enjoying the delicious traditional food they brought in for each other. Many of these dishes will feature in our upcoming Baytree recipe book. The new students from Ukraine enjoyed the event and pointed out that celebrating the culture of one another made Baytree feel like a safe and warm environment. In honour of the theme of healing, the women danced, sang and shared food with one another. Everyone was pleased to be able to relax, have fun and let their minds focus on something more positive for a while.
Check out our social pages to see what our celebration for Refugee Week with the women looked like this year!