RW_logo_RGB_blackThe theme for Refugee Week this year is IMAGINE. With the current Covid-19 pandemic it is relevant more than ever to explore our imaginations. When we are stuck and don’t know where to turn, using our imagination to picture something new to take a step forward is sometimes the best response.

Manchester Libraries have an amazing lineup of great events for Refugee Week 2020

The Giant Dolls’ House Project with Manchester Libraries

The Giant Dolls’ House Project is an inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tive arts project, raising awareness of homelessness and refugees. Communities are encouraged to think about their own experience of isolation during the lockdown and to illustrate this through creative expression. 

During Refugee Week which starts on 15th June, we would like you to join us in creating your own miniature dolls’ house, sharing you and your family’s experience of staying in one space during the Covid-19 self-isolation and social distancing. Take a look at the photos above and below for inspiration. 

What will I need to make my room?

  • One Small box (shoe box is ideal but any box will do – biscuit box, or maybe make a box out of scrap cardboard).
  • Check around your house for bits and bobs you can use, for example old bottle tops, cardboard, ribbons, tags, sweet wrappers, fabric, paper clips – whatever you have to hand.
  • Sellotape or glue
  • Felt tips or crayons to colour in with

Take your box and think about which room in your house you are going to recreate – living room, kitchen, bedroom, wherever you like. Then decorate the walls, floor and ceiling of the box with paper, fabric, paint or colour them in with felt tips or crayons. Next add furniture – cardboard pieces in the shape of beds, chairs, sofa or tables can be added. 

We would love to see what you have made! If you would like to share your miniature dolls’ house with us, take a close up photograph of your box – just the box, not you or anyone else in the picture and send it in a message to the Manchester Libraries’ Facebook page. If you are a child ask Mum, Dad or your grown up to do this for you.  

We think this is a great project to get involved in. Manchester Libraries are currently working to become  Libraries of Sanctuary and we called up our friends at City of Sanctuary to ask their community to get involved with this too, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences of conflict and displacement as asylum seekers who have relocated to the UK. During  the last 2 weeks, Manchester Libraries delivered 50 craft resource packs to asylum seekers at City of Sanctuary and the BOAZ Trust, Afro Tots in Wythenshawe, the Tree of Life in Wythenshawe and staff from North area libraries have given out packs to individual families. We held 2 Zoom creative sessions with our lovely friends at City of Sanctuary and the photos of the miniature dolls’ houses shown above are some of the creative work we have received so far from City of Sanctuary members and Afro Tots. These photos will be sent to The Giant Dolls’ House project to form part of their giant virtual dolls’ house,  which can be viewed online on Saturday 20th June here

Storytime With Kate Milner

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We are very excited to announce that children’s author Kate Milner is doing a special reading of  her award winning book My Name Is Not Refugee just for Manchester Libraries! This powerful story details the journey of a little boy with his mother to seek refuge in another country. Kate offers us an insight into her story and illustrations and explains the journey of refugees very well to young readers. This is a must watch! Available via Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives YouTube page on Thursday 18 June at 11am.

Styrofoam Printing with Manya


This session comes from Manya Alkhmri and is part of a larger series of craft sessions commissioned by Manchester Libraries from freelance artists we have worked with previously. Working from home, Manya shows us how we can use basic craft tools and some things you might find around the house to make your own hand printed cards using styrofoam sheets. Manya works mainly in sculpture but runs workshops across the city in everything from making self portraits in clay to lithography and mosaics. She has also exhibited at venues including HOME, Whitworth Gallery and as part of Manchester’s Syrian festival. Available via Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives YouTube page on Tuesday 16 June at 11am.

Refugee Video shorts 

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These Refugee video shorts are a great conversation starter to learn more about life experiences of refugees. Below are 10 short films which we have picked out for you to view to raise awareness of the struggles often faced by refugees. 

Syrian Refugees: A human crisis revealed (National Geographic)

Filmmaker Lior Sperandeo captures the raw emotion of life as a refugee. According to the UN, 865,000 refugees and migrants reached Greece by sea in 2015. See a harrowing landing in this striking short film that captures the poignant story of Syrian people seeking safety and those that come to their aid.

Still The Most Shocking Second A Day (Save the Children)

The refugee crisis isn’t just a story on the news – it’s happening here and it’s happening now. Please watch and share.

Through the eyes of a refugee (Amnesty International)

This film project documents an extraordinary project in which five people from the Netherlands and Belgium were brought into a state of hypnosis, so they could gain deeper insight into the journey of a Syrian refugee. Under the guidance of a professional hypnotherapist, the participants experienced the journey of 29-year-old Marwa, from Syria, as she made her way to safety to the Netherlands.

How Would You React After Looking In The Eyes Of A War Refugee? (Upworthy)

Twenty years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron discovered that four minutes of looking into each other’s eyes can bring people closer. Using this discovery, Amnesty International Poland decided to carry out a simple experiment where refugees and Europeans sat opposite each other and looked into each other’s eyes.

Short Animation – Help refugees and asylum seekers during Covid-19 (Lina Caicedo)

Call out to help refugees and asylum seekers during Covid-19 pandemic.

A young Syrian girl’s life as a refugee (UNICEFmena)

Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

A day in the life (UNICEF)

“Education is everything.” Bodoor, 18, who lives in a refugee camp in Jordan, wants to be the first Syrian woman to go to space.

When you don’t Exist (Amnesty International) 

When you don’t exist is Amnesty International’s campaign for the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and at its borders.

Hiba’s story: ten year old Syrian refugee (UNICEF USA)

Every time you get a child to learn and play. There is hope. Hiba Al Nabolsi, age 10, a refugee from Syria, at a center in Macedonia where UNICEF helps children with education, activities, sanitation, and a child friendly space where they can play and learn.

Refugee life: through a child’s eyes (Operation Blessing)

Little Hamze was uprooted from his home in Mosul, Iraq when ISIS swept through the area in 2014. Now, he and his father have made it to Idomeni, Greece where they await safe passage to Germany and hope to be able to send for Hamze’s mother and sister.

Refugee Voices: Virtual Refugee Conversations


ben_and_jerrys_logoAs part of Refugee Week, Manchester Libraries& Manchester City of Sanctuary have been successful in obtaining funding from Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream people, to facilitate a virtual Refugee Voices conversation session via NaTakallam (We Speak in Arabic). 

Refugee Voices are open conversations with professional refugee Conversation Partners from around the world, who share their personal stories, the context that forced them to leave and the challenges of rebuilding a life. These conversations will be hosted by our Libraries of Sanctuary hubs, Central Library, North City Library, Wythenshawe Forum and Longsight Library. 

Central Library (virtual) – Tuesday 23rd June 7pm: A chance to hear first hand Guy’s account of conflict and displacement. Our conversation partner Guy, is originally from Burundi. He moved to Uganda in 2014 for his education, but when he completed his studies, he was unable to return to his country due to a lack of security. See EVENTBRITE to book your free place. 

Wythenshawe Forum (virtual) – Thursday 25th June 7pm: Music teacher Shadi, who was forced to leave Syria and relocate in Iraq, shares his passion for reading and teaching music. Shadi is in his late thirties and is originally from Qamishli, Syria. Due to conflict in his home country, Shadi moved to Erbil, Iraq. Before working with NaTakallam, he worked as a music teacher and translator. Shadi enjoys reading and listening to music in his free time. See EVENTBRITE to book your free place.

North City Library (virtual) Tuesday 30th June 7pm: S. Khaled, who was forced to leave Syria and relocate in Iraq, shares his personal narrative of displacement. Shadi is in his late thirties and is originally from Qamishli, Syria. Due to conflict in his home country, Shadi moved to Erbil, Iraq. Before working with NaTakallam, he worked as a music teacher and translator. Shadi enjoys reading and listening to music in his free time. See EVENTBRITE to book your free place.

Longsight Library (virtual) – Thursday 2nd July 7pm: Asalah’s conversation will include a personal narrative of displacement, a focus on gender, and an introductory Arabic language lesson. Asalah is in her thirties and is originally from Syria. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economy and E-Marketing. In Syria, she worked as a middle school teacher, before moving due to the conflict. After spending a few years in Lebanon, she has been resettled in Italy. See EVENTBRITE to book your free place.

During these 1 hour sessions, which will be on Zoom, our conversation partners will share their experiences of conflict and displacement and you will have the opportunity to ask questions about their personal stories. Please check back during Refugee Week to book your free place via Eventbrite.  All the sessions are suitable for ages 16+.