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The Refugee’s Gift

News St Martin – Talking Points

Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Refugee Council is calling on the UK to celebrate the contribution made to British society by refugees with a striking new photo exhibition held at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The Refugee’s Gift opens on 27 May 2014 and will also run throughout Refugee Week (16-22 June 2014).

It features 40 photographs taken by longstanding Refugee Council supporter Bill Knight, which highlight the contribution refugees have made to life in the United Kingdom. The exhibition features a variety of people, including those who have arrived recently from conflicts in Syria, Eritrea, or Somalia, or sought safety decades ago from Hitler’s Germany.

Subjects of the exhibition include the award winning journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who came to the UK from Uganda in 1972, Paul Sathianesan, the first refugee Mayor of a London borough and Bob Hepple, who was a banned person in his native South Africa for 27 years after he acted as Nelson Mandela’s legal adviser in his trial for incitement in 1962.

The exhibition also features a number of young people, including figure skater and 2018 Winter Olympic hopeful, Segen, 15, who had never seen snow or ice before arriving in the UK from her native Eritrea.

Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “All the people photographed for this exhibition have benefited from Britain’s long and proud tradition of providing protection to refugees. Most arrived with few material possessions, and many were traumatised by their experience of forced exile, but all were given the chance to build new and fulfilling lives.

“As their stories demonstrate so compellingly, refugees contribute hugely to the lives of everyone in the UK, by enriching our culture, our commerce and our communities, and by showing us that compassion is a hallmark of a strong and open society.

“Our duty is to provide safety to refugees. Our responsibility is to enable them to flourish.”