Celebrating refugees in Leeds: 1918-2018

Undergraduate students are set to present an exhibition celebrating the experiences and lives of refugees in Leeds over the last century.

The cumulation of this extensive project - drawn from archives, newspapers, and interviews - will be displayed at Leeds Central Library from 11 June, coinciding with national Refugee Week.

As part of their research, the team has spoken to people about their experiences of being a refugee or of working with refugees in the city, even gathering memories handed down through families to the descendants of these refugees.

We hope to bring to the public’s attention the positive impact that refugees have had on Leeds as well as the wonderful ways in which the city has welcomed the new arrivals.

Anna McLaughlin, second year Liberal Arts student.

Students were also able to interview a Chilean refugee who studied at the University of Leeds in the 1970s and was part of a group which painted a mural during his time here, which was rediscovered during refurbishment at Leeds University Union in 2017 and subsequently restored.

Another focus is the Hungarian revolution of 1956, which caused a huge displacement of people, with most refugees fleeing to Austria.

In response to this crisis, the city of Leeds began a programme of fundraising to help the refugees leave Austria for the safety of the UK, as part of a wider national campaign. The University was heavily involved with this fundraising, sponsoring a group of students to come to the city to continue their studies. Other non-student Hungarian refugees also benefited as a result. Today, the University offers a number of Sanctuary Scholarships to forced migrants to the UK.

“Like the refugee students, some families were also welcomed with open arms, with people opening up their homes to the refugees, especially over the Christmas period of 1956, when Hungarians and English people celebrated together sharing their customs,” said Anna.

There has also been a focus on the support available for refugees in Leeds today, provided by Migration Yorkshire, RETAS Leeds and the Refugee Council and its involvement in the Syrian Resettlement Programme.

Celebrating refugees in Leeds: 1918-2018 is free to attend. For more information follow @CelebratingLDS via twitter or visit refugeeweek.org.uk.


3rd Floor, Leeds Central Library
Calverley St