Why Refugee Week is important and what we did

Refugee Week is a national initiative to celebrate and inform audiences about who refugees really are through moving and thought-provoking performances and activities. In the current ‘hostile environment’ in the UK, refugees who have already been through so much often face further structural violence through deportation, detention, homelessness and hate crime.

Refugee Week is an opportunity for performers to connect with people on a human level, to share positive experiences and often to speak out the truth of their experiences.

This year, we showcased the beautiful and compelling music created by refugees, asylum seekers, Roma and torture survivors in our specialised music programmes, reaching thousands of people.

Photo credit: Francesco Espinoza

Stone Flowers performed with the incredible Manchester Camerata Orchestra for an immersive performance ‘Conflict & Compassion’ at Gorton Monastery, with stunning live visuals by Maz, a member of Stone Flowers.

“Fantastic performance from all the singers, musicians and those supporting this afternoon. I was moved to tears by the points powerfully made and the emotional force of the music. The Camerata were the perfect partners for Stone Flowers, and the whole collaboration has taken them to a higher level.” Audience member, Conflict & Compassion

Photo credit: Francesco Espinoza

“I enjoy every Saturday coming here and enjoy everyone here. I have learnt many stuff and really thank you from everyone, you’ve been very supportive.” Stone Flowers member

Stone Flowers also received a standing ovation for their performance at the Royal Northern College of Music as part of Street Choirs Festival.

Photo credit: Daniel Diaz Vera

“A concert appearance by Stone Flowers is always an intensely moving occasion. It’s heartening to know that people who’ve suffered torture can turn that horrific experience into something positive, which they then give to their audiences.” RNCM, Audience member  

A huge thank you to our lovely audience, who raised £540 for our Crowdfunder with homeless young people in Sierra Leone. We would love you to help us reach our target of £10,000 by 19 August here

Photo credit: Daniel Diaz Vera

We created music with over 60 newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers attending drop-in centres for support. The 3 ‘Crisis Choirs’ created interactive performances for other refugees and asylum seekers in their community centres, for the Red Cross Refugee World Cup, a Park Family Day and a brilliant local fundraiser organised by a supporter. A big thank you to our partners: BRASS, Rainbow Haven, Cornerstone, Caritas Salford, Manchester Cathedral, Talk English, Refugee Action and British Red Cross, who made these inspiring performances possible!

Photo credit: Daniel Diaz Vera

“We are from different country, but the music is a world language, it’s everyone can understand the music. Anyone not understand my language, but they understand the music. Music is like a smile, it’s a world language.” Crisis Choirs participant, BRASS 

Photo credit: Daniel Diaz Vera

Our school programme, Harmonise reached more children than ever this year, creating empathy and understanding for refugees with over a thousand school children. Musicians from Syria, Congo, Ethiopia, Romania, Iran, Bosnia-Hercegovina and more, chose their favourite songs to teach the kids, as well as creating original music together. The kids raised the roof in performances at Southbank Centre in London and Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

Photo credit: Aisha Seriki
Photo credit: Aisha Seriki

Finally, our brilliant group of teenage refugees and asylum-seekers, Everyday People had two incredible performances as part of Shubbak Festival. Shubbak (meaning ‘window’ in Arabic) is London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture.

The young people were joined by Syrian beatboxer Adz and contemporary classical singer Merit Ariane. They performed at the National Theatre with inspiring artists from around the world and at Bush Theatre, debuting original songs inspired by photographs from Shubbak Festival’s 10 to 10 exhibition.

“I have never done something like this before, it’s been a great privilege and I learned a lot of stuff” Adz, Syrian beat boxer, Everyday People

Everyday People discuss the process for creating music together

 To round up these fantastic events, we have launched our new Crowdfunder to create music programmes with street youth in Sierra Leone in partnership with Wayout Arts. We want to work with some amazing young people to develop long-term music programmes and bring joy and happiness to the streets of Freetown! 

We need you to to help us continue this life-changing work. Go to to help us reach our target.

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