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  • Writer's pictureKaty at Jacari

Celebrating Sanctuary event

Two people - Jacari staff - at charity stand in park

The Jacari Bristol team recently spent a wonderful day at Celebrating Sanctuary, Bristol Refugee Festival’s flagship event and the grand finale of its Refugee Week programme. 

Celebrating Sanctuary is a family-friendly community celebration of music, dance, and food from around the world, held annually on Queen Square in central Bristol. Jacari joined the information stalls showcasing the work of organisations that support refugee and asylum-seeking people in the Bristol area.

We were delighted that Jacari pupils and their families, our volunteers, and staff from partner schools all dropped by to see us. Visitors to our stall also included potential volunteers and partners, and it was an opportunity to reconnect with existing friends, supporters, and partner organisations, such as Bristol STAR (Student Action for Refugees). And all in the sunshine with a backdrop of music and dance performances! 

Sharing language for 'home'

The theme of Refugee Week this year was ‘our home’. We posed a question to our visitors: How do you say home in another language you know?

It’s the kind of question we encourage Jacari volunteers to ask their tutees, so that multilingual pupils have the opportunity to make connections between the languages they know, while developing their English. At our stall, so many interesting conversations stemmed from this question -  the languages and scripts people know, what ‘home’ means, and the nuances in different languages.

Orange hearts with words for "home" written in many languages

We also asked visitors to decorate a paper orange heart, a symbol of solidarity with refugees, with the words for ‘home’ in other languages they knew, or to draw a picture of what home means to them. The scores of hearts were displayed around our gazebo, in a growing display throughout the day, and included 31 languages. Alongside a heart decorating station, Jacari’s outdoor games, picnic blankets and snacks attracted the company of children and families throughout the day. 

A day of community

It was a day of community, something that is not just important to us, but one of our four core values (equality, aspiration, and love of learning are the others). 

Since its inception, Jacari’s work has set out to create connections and foster solidarity between diverse communities. Many Jacari pupils have come to the UK seeking sanctuary, and many have families with refugee backgrounds. And of course it is through supportive communities that families can begin to build new senses of home. 

Celebrating our volunteers

We also recognise the contributions of Jacari volunteers with refugee backgrounds, who give their time and skills freely to children and young people needing some extra support to realise their full potential in school and beyond. One of our sixth-form peer tutors spoke from the stage at the Celebrating Sanctuary event about her own journey, the help she’d received, and described how volunteering for Jacari was a way for her to ‘give back’. Stories like these inspire us to continue with our work. 

Refugee Week

Each year, Refugee Week offers us a chance for us to focus on our work with those who have come to the UK seeking safety, and the Celebrating Sanctuary event was a wonderful way to highlight this work and connect with our community, ahead of planning for the next academic year. 

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