Calder Valley festival welcomes refugees

Most of the performers on the day were refugees
Most of the performers on the day were refugees

Nearly 400 people attended the Welcome Festival last Saturday at the Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge in support of asylum seekers and refugees.

Most of the dancers, singers and musicians who performed on the day were refugees.

People came from all over to show their support including a famous Syrian singer and his daughter who travelled from Bournemouth, the Songo Drummers Project and the Harmony Choir from Leeds and Dave Nelson and Charlie Carr from Hebden Bridge, who all performed at the event.

Children were treated to face painting, arts and craft activities and making figures out of balloons.

There were stalls by the two organisations that organised the festival, Calderdale Freedom from Torture and Together We Grow as well as stalls from the St Augustine Centre and Calderdale Valley of Sanctuary.

Chair of the Calderdale Freedom from Torture Group, Pat Kemp, said: “The Welcome Festival showed that local people want to support refugees.

“We know that there is a great need for this support as many of the refugees have had traumatic experiences, lost family members and friends, lost homes and communities, lost a place of belonging.”

Around 75 refugees and 30 volunteers were given a free vegan lunch and cakes at the event.

Laura Beesley, Chair of Together We Grow, said: “We have many people to thank for their help with the Welcome Festival.

“Calderdale Community Transport donated us a minibus and a driver for the day to take some of the refugees from the station to the Birchcliffe Centre. Hebden Bridge Community PA provided the sound system with two sound engineers.

“Hilary and others from Incredible Edible Todmorden provided lunch for over 100 people without charging.”