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Through my links with Migrant Support, their students have visited Archives+ and Central Library for tours, library membership and Archives+ workshops, we decided to hold a welcome evening of music, dance and culture to celebrate refugee week at Central Library. In these uncertain times for refugees and migrant workers, we felt the evening would serve as a reminder to each other that cultural diversity is at the heart of what makes Manchester such a great city.

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Leading up to the event, the students from Migrant Support created artwork to be displayed on the night, showing their love for Manchester and illustrating their pride in their own heritage and roots. Sandra from Migrants Support and Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, welcomed everyone to the event and reiterated the importance of maintaining cohesive communities which flourish in the rich and diverse culture we hold dear here in Manchester.

Opening the evening were the fantastic WAST Choir (Women Asylum Seekers Together) who sang a collection of their favourite songs. With their sweet harmonies and inspirational words, their performance was very moving.

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Aladin from Migrants Support produced a fantastic array of world food tasting tables, alongside exotic non-alcoholic cocktails, which were sensational! Plus for the coffee lovers, the Ethiopian coffee ceremony attracted lots of interest.

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Over 100 people joined in the screen printing workshop with Street Style Surgery, producing “United Together” Central Library tote bags. We even had a surprise celebrity visitor, actor Robert Bathurst, who stars in Manchester based TV drama Coldfeet,  tried his hand at screen printing.

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Closing the evening were Ukrainian Dance group Orlyk, who brought a foot stomping energetic display of traditional Ukrainian culture, which was a big hit with all ages.

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130 people of all ages, all ethnicities, all nationalities came together here, together now… to enjoy a family evening of celebration. For one sun-filled mid week evening, students taking time off from studying in the reading room, new Manchester residents from overseas, library visitors returning their library books, everyone shared a moment of togetherness… #TogetherWeAreStronger

Blog written by Siobhan O’Connor, Archives+ Community Officer. Photographs courtesy of Migrants Support and Street Style Surgery.