Different pasts, shared futures: Refugee week 2011
Posted Thursday 16 June 2011
The slogan for Refugee Week (20 to 26 June) says it all: “Different pasts, shared future”. A man or woman may be born in a distant country, raised in a different culture, exposed to persecution and forced to travel a long distance to reach safety, but through contact with a community of fellow survivors and carers, can achieve recovery and begin a new life in the UK.
This Monday, 20 June, is World Refugee Day. It marks the beginning of a week of arts, cultural and educational events across the UK celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages better understanding between communities.
In recent years, local Mind associations have embraced the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of their local populations through a variety of events. ‘Community Cuisines Day’, for example, involved sharing food from around the world, bringing people together and building bridges. This year, Norwich Mind Inclusion Project will be holding a free workshop on 23 June to explore ways of dealing with traumatic experiences, such as deep relaxation techniques and self hypnosis, and will also look at the different ways trauma can affect people from different cultures.
Mind has been working on refugee and asylum seeker mental health since 2008, and our research with local Minds and migrant support organisations reflects the needs of a population that is more likely to experience poor mental health than the native population and is among the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society.
Two-thirds of refugees in the UK have experienced anxiety or depression, often as a consequence of the asylum process itself combined with detention, fear of return and loss of country, status, family and friends. In fact, research has found that the depression experienced by refugees is more closely linked with poor social support than with a history of torture. We believe that access to responsive and culturally appropriate mental health services, as well as a community of friends and fellow survivors is essential to enable refugees to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Refugee Week is all about celebrating the contribution that refugees make to UK society and culture. We recognise the unique and valuable role that refugees play as staff, volunteers and community members involved in the delivery of mental health services. We will continue to work towards accessible and effective services for refugees and other vulnerable migrants to ensure that they can achieve their full potential in their new life. You can do your bit by taking part in Refugee Week events in your area.
If you are a refugee or you provide mental health services to refugees, let us know what has helped you or your service users to achieve recovery or to manage distress.
We’ll have more blogs during Refugee Week written by refugees and mental health service providers themselves. And don’t forget to let us know what activities you’re taking part in to celebrate Refugee Week.
Sile Reynolds, Mind Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer
Commenting is now closed.