Last Wednesday, 29 September, brought All Welcome 2021, a celebration of the creativity and resilience of Haringey’s diverse communities over the time of the pandemic. Around 120 people met at Karamel, the restaurant and arts centre in Wood Green, for delicious free food and an evening of talks, performances and inspiration. From the opening speech by Zrinka Bralo from Migrants Organise – theme: don’t be a bystander – to HW’s Lucy Nabijou closing words, with a welcome to a group of newly arrived asylum seekers, this was a chance for everyone to renew their commitment to justice and equality.
Stand-out moments include a stunning performance of flamenco and traditional Syrian music, by Syrian guitarist Mouayad Amouneh; a witty presentation of the perils of online creativity from writing group Explore Your Story, whose book Write On! we were launching (copies still available from HW); and a stirring plea for access to healthcare for all, from respiratory consultant Dr Jess Potter, who arrived with her three-week-old son. We heard about Haringey’s creative use of the Everyone In! scheme, which found accommodation and support for over a thousand homeless men and women. Seven Sisters Primary School sent us a video to show how they deal with the huge range of practical and emotional needs of their pupils. Researchers Meghanne Barker and Deena Dajani gave us an update on our Covid Chronicles project. We learned about the success of the Save Latin Village campaign, and its ongoing struggles to ensure the safety of all the Village’s members. And our opening performance, from participants in theatre group LegalAliens’ free drama classes for migrants and refugees, was an extract from the show they themselves had devised, The Box We Tick, a powerful, physical account of sleeplessness and exile. All of this was met with warmth and enthusiasm from our supportive audience. Meanwhile local groups including StART, Haringey Anti-Raids, Patients not Passports and Streets Kitchen, with stalls in the Long Lounge, engaged people with news of their own related campaigns.
Many thanks to all the contributors, to Karamel for their hospitality, technical support and nourishment, and to everyone who made it such a good evening. The need to campaign for fairness for all hasn’t diminished over the pandemic – on the contrary – but we hope everyone who attended, and those reading this now, will feel inspired to continue.