An event designed to celebrate the contribution migrants make in Kenilworth has been hailed as a success by organisers.
‘One Day Without Us’, held in Talisman on Saturday February 18, saw visitors mark their ancestors’ origins on a world map, talk to volunteers about migrants’ contribution to society, and take part in activities like flag-themed face painting and listening to live music.
Kenilworth’s event was held just before a national day of action on Monday February 20, where people across the country were invited to celebrate migrants. It coincided with the UN World Day of Social Justice.
One of the event’s organisers Claire Stern, of Randall Road, felt inspired to organise something after watching the Prime Minister Theresa May declare ‘if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere’ during a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016.
Claire said: “That felt to me like a massive shift to the right. If migrants left for one day where would we be?
“I just thought I’m sitting here ranting and raving at the TV and maybe I need to engage with people instead.”
She discussed the idea with a few friends, and support for the event grew further from there.
Claire wanted to make sure the event was a ‘positive celebration’ rather than focusing on negatives, as she felt people were more likely to engage with it that way.
Plenty of people turned up on the day, and around 100 signed a ‘statement of solidarity’ which expressed support for the town’s migrants and urged councillors, schools, churches and businesses to ‘reject the politics of hate and division’.
Another volunteer Clare Wightman said: “It seemed to go really well - we had some really good conversations with people.”
And Claire Stern added: “I think there’s an appetite now for events that celebrate Kenilworth as a diverse town - I don’t think we celebrate that diversity enough.”