Skip to main content

Portsmouth proudly presents Refugee Week 2023 celebrating diversity, empathy and integration

Refugee Week Portsmouth is pleased to announce an array of exciting and inclusive creative events taking place across multiple sites that will celebrate the contributions, resilience, and cultural richness of asylum seekers and refugees in our community.


This year’s theme for Portsmouth Refugee Week, 19th-25th June, is ‘Compassion’ with events devised and led by 432 Nomads in collaboration with Portsmouth City of Sanctuary.


Throughout the week, diverse and engaging free activities and events will be held, encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to take part. The week-long programme aims to promote understanding, empathy and integration, whilst raising awareness of the challenges faced by individuals forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution.


Portsmouth Refugee Week

Majid Dhana, poet and arts collective 432 Nomads member, said “Together we can learn about the extraordinary journeys of asylum seekers and refugees with empathy, compassion, and respect. Local artists from all walks of life will take part – from those that are Pompey born and bred to people making a new life here.”


Events taking place each day will include performances from schools and community groups, poets, rappers, dancers, traditional dancers, storytellers and visual artists who have been working to prepare for the inspirational showcases across the City.


Asylum seeker and artist Mahnaz Rezaei said “I have always believed that art is a universal language with which people can share their feelings, experiences and even their dreams. Taking part in Refugee Week is proof of that and has helped me experience a sense of accomplishment once again.”


Refugee Week opens with a Launch Concert on Monday 19th June that will present a thrilling range of cultural performances at St Luke’s Church including a special surprise! Following the acts, there will be a warm reception bringing together community and guests, to enjoy traditional Arabic and Asian food freshly made for the event.


Other events will take place during the week at both Southsea and Portsmouth Libraries, Spark Community Centre, Hunter Gatherer, Palmerston Road precinct, an uplifting Closing Celebration on Sunday 25th June at Aspex in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth’s leading art gallery. All of the creative activities taking place include vibrant performances, music, dance, and traditional arts illuminating the richness and diversity of refugee communities, celebrating their heritage.


Portsmouth City of Sanctuary trustee and volunteer, Denise Callender said “I’m excited to see the performances and artwork during Refugee Week. Let’s celebrate with people seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth and create a future that values the contributions of all members of society.”


Local galleries and exhibition spaces will display artworks by talented refugee artists, providing a window into their unique perspectives. People can come along to learn about the meaningful volunteer activities that support local asylum seekers that make a positive impact.


432 Nomads and Portsmouth City of Sanctuary invite the public to participate in the Refugee Week Portsmouth 2023 events to join them in building a welcoming and inclusive city.


The project hopes to raise awareness and recognise the strength and potential of refugees. If you are an individual, business, community organization or educational institution and would like to get involved in activities that embrace diversity and empower all, irrespective of their background, please come along to Refugee Week Portsmouth 2023 or get in touch with Portsmouth City of Sanctuary by emailing [email protected].


Each event is listed on the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary website. Everyone was welcome and all events were free.



Events that took place were:

19 June, 6.00-8.30pm: Refugee Week Launch Concert, St. Lukes Church, PO5 4LH
22 June, 4.30-6pm: Phoenix meets Compassion, Portsmouth Central Library, PO1 2DX
22 June, 7-9pm: Pheonix meets Compassion Let’s Vibe, Hunter Gatherer, PO4 0JR
23 June, 10am-2pm: Art meets Compassion, Spark Community Centre, PO4 8SL
23 June, 6-7pm: Meditation Arts meets Compassion, Southsea Library, PO5 3QQ
23 June, 7-9pm: Arts meets Compassion (evening event), Bold Forester, PO4 0JW
24 June, 11am-3pm: Art Explosion meets Compassion, Southsea Library, PO5 3QQ
24 June, 11am-3pm: Let’s Create Compassion, Palmerston Road, PO5 3QQ
24 June, 7-9pm: Compassions Art at the Bridge Tavern, PO1 2JJ
25 June, 12-2pm: Celebration of Compassion Aspex Portsmouth, PO1 3BF (Refugee Week closing)


All events are supported using public funding by Arts Council England.