POWERFUL voices and the joy of celebrating together combine in a city festival which aims to help everyone reconnect after a tough year.

Refugee Festival Scotland, which is running a packed programme of colourful events in Glasgow next month, showcases a range of refugee arts and culture.

This year’s festival runs from June 14 to 20, and will include everything from live music and dance to online art shows, film screenings, gaming marathons and family-friendly picnics.

This year’s event focuses on helping communities in Glasgow, and across Scotland, to build bonds of friendship after months kept apart by the pandemic.

Musicians in Exile. Pic: Brian Hartley

Musicians in Exile. Pic: Brian Hartley

Maryhill Integration Network (MIN), who bring refugee, migrant and local communities together, is just one of many groups and organisations taking part.

Director Remzije Zeka Sherifi said: “Refugee Festival Scotland is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of diverse cultures that New Scots bring to Scotland’s artistic landscape and cultural life.

“It provides our members with a platform to share their art, ideas and creativity. We can’t wait to see you everyone for this year’s celebrations and to share the sights, sounds and colours of the festival.”

The week-long event, produced by the Scottish Refugee Council, celebrates the many ways refugees contribute to Scotland’s cultural life by showcasing the food and drink, music and dance, language and art people bring with them when they begin new lives in Scotland.

Bas Alden, who is originally from Palestine, is one of the organisers behind this year’s festival.

Tears of Gold - Hannah Thomas

Tears of Gold - Hannah Thomas

He said: “Each year, we evolve and adapt to changes and use new tools to support and bring people together.

“As a result of Covid-19, this year’s festival will be different, with many events being held online to make them accessible to all – and to keep people safe.”

He added: “Refugee Festival Scotland is a place where the sky is the limit when it comes to dreams and ideas. It is a safe and open space for people to campaign for change and reach out to others in friendship and support.”

Details of the 2021 festival programme are now on the festival’s website (refugeefestivalscotland.co.uk).

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Glasgow highlights include Celebration of Life, a performance by the Joyous Choir and Maryhill Integration Network; Musicians in Exile – Always on the Move, a film about a group of asylum-seeking and refugee musicians making music in lockdown; and Tears of Gold: Stories of Refugee Women Displaced from Home, an exhibition of Hannah Rose Thomas’ powerful portraits of Yezidi, Rohingya and Nigerian survivors of displacement and sexual violence.

Survivors of torture, who are all clients at Freedom from Torture’s Glasgow Centre, have made a film called Window. Produced by Urban Croft Films, it explores the importance of the physical and metaphorical windows of the participants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Volunteers from Govan Community Project came together as part of a participatory action research group interested in improving awareness of the asylum seeker and refugee experience. Along with Plantation Productions and the Glasgow South Health Improvement Team, they created ‘We Journey Together’, a film and resource pack aiming to increase understanding of the asylum system, challenge stigma, and open up conversations.

The team at Govan Community Project will also be in action on the airwaves, with a two-hour show of music and chat on Clyde Built Radio and Sunny Govan.

Listen along for music picked by community members from a refugee background, and chat celebrating all things friendship, community, culture and collaboration.

To mark Refugee Festival Scotland, the Reading Group for Muslim Women based at the Glasgow Women’s Library will be watching and discussing the film: Tiny Souls.

Glasgow Film Theatre is hosting Take Your Shot an event for 11 to 14 year olds and their families who are interested in film.

Participants will learn from GFT’s Youth Officer about different camera shots, angles and tricks.

Licketyspit’s Porridge and Play Online brings together families from all over the world who live in Glasgow, for children’s rights-based, imaginary play, while the Rise Refugee Week Supper Club will be running a picnic under a private gazebo in Woodlands Community Garden. It’s a chance to celebrate and share recipes from home.

In Our Shoes is a new poetry collection developed by Maryhill Integration Network and it will be launched at the festival, while Milk Café in the Govanhill Community Garden will be welcoming in the summer in style with food, drinks, herb bouquets to take away and some cuttings to share.

Using gaming as a platform for good, Gaming Against the Hostile Environment aims to raise awareness about the hostile environment policies which leave thousands of people who came to the UK as asylum seekers or refugees in vulnerable, precarious and often inhumane situations.

As part of Refugee Festival Scotland, they’re setting up the gear for a gaming marathon to raise funds for four grassroots organisations that support refugees, including Maslow’s Community Shop in Glasgow.

All gamers are also invited to join for a celebration stream on World Refugee Day – time and game to be confirmed.