'Breaking Bread'

Community meal for Refugee Week gives Keighley people unique opportunity
June 6, 2023

Delicious Middle Eastern cuisine will be on offer later this month in at least one West Yorkshire town, as Keighley College and Keighley Creative join forces to host a very special PEACE MEAL, to mark this year's Refugee Week, which gets underway on 19 June.

Visitors will be able to sample Syrian food at a gathering aimed at bringing together Keighley’s communities. The Peace Meal will take place at Keighley College as part of Refugee Week 2023, a worldwide arts and cultural festival.

The college is collaborating with arts charity Keighley Creative to stage the event this month, following a successful pilot event held at Keighley Parish Church in October last year during the organisation’s Keighley Arts and Film Festival.

A Place of Sanctuary: a Peace Meal for Refugee Week will take place on Thursday 22 June and will feature a performance of multilingual poetry by Bradford-based poet Nabeela Ahmed. Food will be provided by Bab Tooma, an authentic Syrian restaurant established in Bradford in 2016.

Cathryn Murray, Keighley Creative’s festival and events producer, explained the idea and hopes for the meal: “The event aims to build bridges between people who might not have an opportunity to meet, and to replace the fear of the unknown with increased familiarity and the sense of richness that diversity can bring.”

Visitors will also be able to hear about Keighley College’s work as a designated College of Sanctuary as well as viewing a video and quilt created by its English for Speakers of Other Languages students.

Jo Rusden, deputy head of technology at Keighley College, said: “We pride ourselves on our inclusivity, warmth and kindness, so we’re delighted to be hosting this event, which will bring people together to celebrate the diversity of our community.”

The event will run from 4pm to 6.30pm and those attending will be asked to contribute on a pay-what-you-feel basis, with a suggested donation of £5. Proceeds will go to the Good Food Keighley project, a social supermarket. Places are limited, so people are asked to book their place via the Eventbrite site HERE.

More than 100 visitors to the 2022 Peace Meal enjoyed the multicultural event, which included a screening of Ruth & Safiya, a film following an unlikely friendship between an isolated pensioner in her 80s who visits her allotment daily, and a teenage Syrian refugee struggling to adapt to a new life in Bradford.

Refugee Week is marking its 25th anniversary this year. It celebrates the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. It was founded in 1998 in the UK and is held every year around World Refugee Day on 20 June.

Header Image: Visitors to the 2022 Peace Meal. Image: Steve Rayner