Celebrating International Migrants Day

Leeds is joining the Intercultural Cities (ICC) Network and cities from across the world to celebrate International Migrants Day on the 18 December.

Together, intercultural cities across Europe and beyond are using the day to highlight the potential and diversity that migrants contribute to our cities. Under the slogan “More than migrants” the ICC campaign aims to break down stereotypes associated with individuals when they are considered as part of a group, focusing on the many things which make us all unique.

The campaign focuses on the contributions we can make to our cities, irrespective of our background, when we are given the means to make the most of our knowledge and skills, allowing everyone to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

To support the campaign, we’re sharing 3 stories from migrants who decided to call Leeds their home and now play important roles in their communities.

Dan, Romania

Dan settled in Leeds in 2012 after his wife secured a nursing job opportunity. Being able to access an orthodox church in Leeds was key in choosing to settle in this Intercultural city.  At the time the Romanian community in the UK was fairly small compared to now.  From the start, Dan was keen to get involved in his community and raised over £10,000 for different charities. In 2012, he was nominated by the Romanian Orthodox Church to carry the Olympic’ torch for his country at Olympics games that took place in London. Dan now works with Leeds City Council and the Police as a translator.

Dan’s migration journey to Leeds has been positive however, he is aware that his experience is different from many others who arrived from Romania to UK since 2007. He supported a community idea drop-in called POMOC (Help!) in partnership with Leeds City Council to help people from Eastern European countries apply for EU Settled Status. Dan holds community events for the Romanian community, to support those needing help to access employment and services.

“I thrive in Leeds because I have many opportunities to get involved in voluntary work that has significant impact for the Romanian community in the region and I am a proud resident of this intercultural city.”

Bahar, Afghanistan

Bahar was granted refugee status in the UK in 2001 and describes her journey.  

“I was 8 months pregnant when I arrived in the UK in the back of a lorry in 2000 with only my clothes, nail scissors, a prayer mat and my mother’s holy Quran, I couldn’t speak English, but I was full of stories.

I volunteered with Leeds Asylum Seeker Support Network, a charity working with asylum seekers, I felt like I finally found myself. I later set up Bahar Women’s Association for other Afghan women like me so I could overcome barriers of which I experienced. I am proud to call this city my home.

Hawah, Leeds

 “I came to the UK in 2007 after leaving Guinea. In Guinea I was forced to marry an old man and I am a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) survivor. I now live in the UK where I work in Leeds at the Blossom Clinic as an advocate of FGM survivors, to empower women to feel comfortable to talk about FGM and to show them that whatever happens, they are not alone. I am working to end FGM and forced marriage and choose to do this by coming forward to speak about it.

I did not choose to come to Leeds as it was the Home Office that relocated me here. However, I soon found that Leeds was a vibrant, diverse and friendly city where I was able to make new friends and connections. And this is the place I call home.

With the support of so many services I have been able to shape who I am now and define many of my recent achievements. I am definitely a more confident leader of my community and for this I am grateful to Leeds as it offered me many opportunities to blossom.  Although I still cherish my home culture, I feel like Leeds is my home too and I identity myself as a proud resident of Leeds.”

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