Former refugee, Julia Kariuki, under the Whittle Arches as part of the Together with Refugees campaign.
Former refugee, Julia Kariuki, under the Whittle Arches as part of the Together with Refugees campaign.

Coventry City Council is taking part in a day of national action with more than 400 organisations across the country in a show of support and solidary with refugees.

At a critical time when the conflict in Ukraine has resulted in 2.5 million refugees and MPs are set to vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill, groups and individuals throughout the UK are coming together in a day of action on Monday 21 March to show their solidarity for people fleeing war and persecution.

Orange hearts will be displayed on key monuments and landmarks in cities and villages throughout the UK, including a flotilla of ferry boats in Bristol and an art installation commissioned by BALTIC, a Gallery of Sanctuary in Newcastle.

Many other buildings throughout the UK are lighting up orange to show their support for a more compassionate approach to refugees, including Cardiff Castle and Coventry city’s famous Whittle Arches and Belgrade Theatre.

Despite the clear groundswell of support for refugees from the British public, the government is pressing ahead with the Bill which will have far reaching consequences for people seeking safety in the UK and criminalise refugees who arrive in the country without prior authorisation. A vote is expected imminently in the House of Commons.

As a proud city of peace and reconciliation, Coventry is lighting up several of its most famous and recognisable landmarks in orange, as a display of solidarity and unity with refugees, with the illuminated landmarks including the Whittle Arches and Belgrade Theatre. 

Deputy Leader for Coventry City Council, Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, said:

“For many years Coventry has proudly stood with and supported those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict or persecution.

“Over the last year we have been witnesses to some of recent histories most tragic and heart-breaking humanitarian crises, watching people flee their homes from places such as Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and more recently, Ukraine.

“These tragic events reinforce our belief that supporting refugees is more than just a legal obligation, it is a moral obligation. We all deserve the right to live long prosperous lives in peace. Refugees are no exception to this.

“This is why we have joined the ‘Together with Refugees’ campaign, so that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our like-minded friends, colleagues and fellow organisations across the country to show our solidary to refugees and let them know that whatever happens, they are not alone”.

Highlighting the detrimental effect of the Nationality and Borders Bill, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor David Welsh, said:

“We have recently called upon the government to throw out the Nationality and Borders Bill as we do not believe it adequately addresses in any capacity the issues that currently face the asylum system, nor supports those who need to use the system.

“Coventry’s history of providing safety and sanctuary is well documented. Since 2014 alone, we have helped to resettle over 900 people through the ARAP and UK Resettlement Schemes.

“We’re joining with our partner organisations across the country to call on the government to create a system that protects refugees and recognises their need for support rather than seeking to criminalise and incarcerate them based on how they arrived in this country. We should instead be focused on why they arrived in the UK, and what we can do to support them now that they’re here”.

Coventry City Council is taking part in this day of action in support of Together with Refugees, a coalition campaign of more than 400 member organisations nationwide, calling for an asylum system that is based on insight, evidence, and compassion so that new arrivals are protected and supported, not subjected to marginalisation and hostile environments.

Coventry proudly stands Together with Refugees.

Published: Monday, 21st March 2022