Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, reflects on Refugee Week.
Refugees, past and present, have made many contributions to our society, not only to the UK as a whole but to Islington specifically. It is vital that we commend these successes.
A number of inspiring refugees have called Islington home throughout history. This includes Nadya Krupskaya, the wife of Lenin, and Carl Ludwig Franck, a German-born architect and designer of Finsbury Library and Estate who fled from Nazi Germany.
Refugee Week, which has been running this week (19-25 June), gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of refugees. It is also an important awareness-raising exercise of why so many are forced to flee their country of birth.
We must also call out negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media and certain individuals whenever we see them
The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is ‘Different Past, Shared Futures’. Despite our differences, we all want the same thing: to be safe, to have a good quality of life and for our children to have the best possible future.
As part of Refugee Week, I have been meeting with the refugees who make Islington great, from member organisations of the Islington Refugee Forum to the individuals who run our vital small businesses.
But the Council’s support for the refugee community is throughout the year and not limited to just one week.
We have led the way in supporting refugees and calling on the Government to play its part. We currently have 60 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have presented themselves directly to the borough. We have also welcomed 25 Syrian refugees and are about to welcome one more. I hope they find Islington a welcoming, multi-cultural and diverse place, and we are working hard to ensure that all our refugees feel at home.
Pictured – Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development