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Refugee Week Conference – Monday 11th February

A national conference looking at the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees in the UK is coming to Coventry this month.

It will be first time ever that the Refugee Week Conference has been held in the city when it comes to Coventry Cathedral on Monday, February 11, and is the only one of its kind to take place outside London.

The event – which is building up to Refugee Week in June – will feature a range of speakers and workshops on a range of topics, from the current global refugee situation through to the positive effects of sport and comedy.

The all-day conference is being organised by Coventry-based Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), Counterpoint Arts and iMix. It is being supported by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and will highlight the #HumansOfCov campaign.

Around 30 young people from Positive Youth Foundation have taken the lead in organising the event, developing the programme and many of the activities on the day.

Susie Murphy, of PYF, said: “We are very proud to be the only city outside of London hosting a Refugee Week Conference ahead of the Refugee Week celebrations later this year.

“The event will bring extremely powerful and moving stories to the city and will see a range of national organisations and bodies coming to Coventry for this event.

“What is especially pleasing for PYF is to the see 30 young people from the city reinventing the structure of a ‘typical conference’ set up. They’ll be encouraging adults to re-evaluate their attitudes towards social action and hope to fill the day with youthful approaches to problem solving.

Youth volunteers from the Positive Youth Foundation will join Coventry City of Culture Trust Creative Director Chenine Bhathena in kicking off proceedings by welcoming visitors and delegates to Coventry Cathedral.

Six different workshops will get underway at 11.30am, including Football as a Tool for Integration, chaired by Susie Murphy of the Positive Youth Foundation.

The session will include speakers Kevin Coleman, FA Equality and Diversity Manager, Jonathan Hunt and David Moorcroft of Coventry City Council and European City of Sport 2019, and Cormac Whelan, Coordinator of the PYF Football programme.

The event will also hear from Khalida Popal, the Afghan football pioneer who was forced to leave her country after growing fears for her safety and backlash for her choice in career.

She has since set up Girl Power, which seeks to empower women refugees through sport by building self-confidence and helping them acclimatise to new locations.

Salani Mutseyami and Natasha Nzazi of the Refugee Week Leadership Project will headline the afternoon’s events with a keynote speech, with a host of professionals involved in the bettering the lives of refugees delivering talks and workshops throughout the day.

Chenine Bhathena said: “Coventry has, over many years, proved itself to be a city of welcome and a city of refuge for people from all over the world.

“Through our #HumansOfCov campaign, we are shining a light on the city’s day-to-day heroes and those people who have found Coventry and have come to call it home because of the welcome they have received here.

“As we build towards 2021, it’s vitally important that Coventry puts itself at the heart of key conversations that are taking place nationally and globally and having a conference such as this staged at Coventry Cathedral is a great example of that.”

For tickets and a full list of speakers, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/refugee-week-conference-coventry-tickets-54348908047

Pictured: Three of the young people who have been part of the team that had led on the organisation of the Refugee Week conference.