Well, since 2016, we have been exploring what it means for newcomers to come and live in the UK and we have found that it can be hard to meet people from outside your community and particularly, the “natives” . But we have found that people are on to this in London and that there are lots of great initiatives to help people meet up in ways which are both ordinary and extraordinary.
Last week, I spoke at the Welcome and Cinema monthly event about the work of TGIUK. The idea of Welcome Kitchen is that people come and have dinner with people who came to the UK as asylum seekers and refugees. We all watched a film and listened to a question and answer session with an invited panel. The food came from 5 different countries and all blended together brilliantly. I sat next to a Kurdish Iraqi and had a great conversation about culture.
So, what did I learn? That the event was sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s and I remembered how great their ice cream was. That Amnesty International who hosted the event do far more than just campaign for the release of political prisoners, that there is an Enterprise Network for Refugees doing really important work – helping refugees start their own business. http://www.wearetern.org. I continued my learning of boxing by watching the “When we were Kings” film about Muhammed Ali.
But most of all I learnt about courage and resilience. The two speakers on the panel were boxers, Ramla Ali and Bilal Fawaz They were brilliantly chaired by a BBC boxing commentator, Ronald McIntosh. Their stories were about overcoming huge barriers to become competition winners and through this, they were able to share lots of life affirming messages. If you are going to be great at anything, ‘the will must be greater than the skill’. ‘Someone tells you, you can’t do something, say, I will show you, I will do it better than you ever knew’ and what really makes the difference in boxing and in life is ‘getting back up when you are pushed down’.
Thanks Ramla and Bilal. Bilal kindly agreed to be in the picture below.
I highly recommend that anyone looking for a good and inspiring, evening books for the next event: http://welcomepresents.com/events/ and anyone looking for some good catering, books the Welcome Kitchen.