This time last year, we teamed up with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to launch our campaign ‘I Am A Refugee’, during World Refugee Week 2016. Now, one year on, we’re taking a look at how successful the campaign has been.
At a time of heightened sensitivity during the European Referendum, we wanted to encourage a positive narrative around the impact of refugees on British culture. To highlight the huge contributions made in the UK by refugees both historically and today, we created a platform for people to show their support. Visit www.iamarefugee.net to show your support.
We took inspiration from something very ‘establishment’ and British – the iconic blue English Heritage plaques that recognise historically important people that have lived in Britain – and gave the concept a twist to surprise and challenge assumptions about refugees and Britishness. The plaques were designed in a variety of colours to reflect the diversity of the refugees that come to Britain. When viewed together, they are beautifully bright, colourful and positive – representative of the contribution refugees make to society.
A number of plaques were put up on significant sites across the UK for refugees who have contributed to life in the UK. Each plaque featured a high-profile refugee, including Rita Ora, Alek Wek, Michael Marks (Marks & Spencer founder) and Dame Stephanie Shirley. And, one year on, we are happy to say that most those plaques still stand, with many other influencers creating online plaques, including MP Alison Thewliss, Lord Alf Dubs, and stand-up comedian Shappi Khorsandi.
We also created an exhibition, which was launched last year at St Paul’s Cathedral (where it had over 78,000 visitors). It has since toured the Museum of Immigration and Diversity in London, and even the Houses of Parliament.
Saira Grant, Chief Executive of JCWI, said “The exhibition was launched in St Paul’s Cathedral and is now touring the country. The website allows refugees and those who support them to create digital plaques. A platform such as this is needed now more than ever and we are very grateful to Coley Porter Bell’s brilliant creativity.”
So far the campaign has been successful in creating a positive dialogue about the subject across social media, and, to date, there have been hundreds of refugee plaques created on the website, with many more being added daily.