The Revd Dr Jonathan Arnold, Executive Director of The Social Justice Network at Diocese of Canterbury, explains: “As a Diocese, we always try to do something to mark Refugee Week. More recently, we have delighted in a collaboration with Canterbury Cathedral. Last year, Revd Dr Emma Pennington, Canon Missioner at the Cathedral, led a mulit-agency refugee project board that organised a concert of words and music about migration and exile, supported by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, with performers Lemn Sissay, Stile Antico, and Rihab Azar رحاب عازار.
"This year, the project board decided to build on Ely Cathedral’s experience of hosting Hear my Voice and, with the help of The Clewer Initiative, organise a three-day programme of events for different groups of people, all centring around the exhibition and art project.
“We are looking forward to bringing together representatives from faith communities, charities, civic and community organisations such as Kent Police and Kent County Council, youth ambassadors, local community champions and school children to learn more about modern slavery and how it can impact refugees.
“Through the talks, panel discussions and educational art workshops, we hope to break down some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding refugees and asylum seekers and build greater understanding and compassion between different nations, cultures and backgrounds. We will explore the role communities can play in protecting vulnerable people from exploitation and think further about how we can build compassionate and resilient communities where refugees are welcome, can integrate and thrive. As the people of God, we want to be a voice of welcome and understanding and live out our faith by showing love and support to people who have been exiled.
“Our desire for the week is that we will start important conversations about what it is like to move to the UK, leaving behind homes, jobs, families and belongings, and to understand more fully the hopes and fears of refugees in our communities. We want to think about how we can respond with compassion to people in need of international protection and work together to reduce the risk of exploitation."