Refugee Council CEO to call for compassion at York St John University’s Doing Change event


York St John University and the Office of the Archbishop of York are delighted to announce that Enver Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council is to deliver this year’s Lecture in Social Justice: ‘The UK’s Changing Asylum Landscape - is this a watershed moment?’

The Archbishop of York Lecture in Social Justice is one of the highlights of York St John University’s Doing Change event. This is a free public event which also celebrates student research and social justice work taking place at the University and in the wider community.

Organised by the Institute for Social Justice, the event takes place on Wednesday 20 March 2024 in the York St John Creative Centre on the University’s Lord Mayor’s Walk campus.

The evening will begin with a multimedia showcase from York St John University students, sharing their work on tackling inequalities and driving positive change. Projects include peer support for recovering addicts, food culture in the cost-of-living crisis and the impact of gendered language in the classroom.

There will also be screenings of short films featuring student engagement with social justice, including: 

  • York St John Law Clinic which offers advice and assistance to people and small businesses who cannot afford to pay
  • The Community Language School which offers free classes to help stop heritage languages from going into disuse amongst younger generations.

Alongside this, Doing Change will offer an opportunity to view the Eleanor Worthington Prize Exhibition. This year’s exhibition marks the 10th year of this International Art Prize and will showcase around 40 pieces of artwork on the theme "Disability & Autonomy".

The evening culminates with the Archbishop of York's Annual Lecture in Social Justice, this year delivered by CEO of The Refugee Council, Enver Solomon. This is an independent charity which provides support for refugees, as well as leading campaigns for more humane approaches to those fleeing countries.

Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, said: "I am delighted that Enver Solomon is coming to share his wisdom with us at this year's social justice lecture at York St John University. 

“In this election year questions around asylum and immigration continue to dominate our political agenda and it is right that we reflect not only on the policy issues that this raises but on the very real human dimensions. 

“We are part of one humanity – how can our country best respond with care and compassion to those in need?" 

Professor Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice, said:

“Social justice is the collective action of creating a fair and just society. Doing Change celebrates this by providing a platform for a public lecture on a topic of national significance and space for our students to share how they have been working for social justice through their research and studies. 

“It is an event that both recognises the existence and reality of the challenges society faces and provides hope for positive social change.”

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council, said: “The migration debate on asylum and refugees in the UK is entering a watershed moment as the government’s Rwanda Bill passes through parliament and the Prime Minister remains determined to get refugees on to a plane against their will to be shipped half way across the globe.  

“We can either choose to turn inwards, pull up the drawbridge and slam our door in the face of our fellow humans  - the men, women and children far less fortunate than us from countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria who have to flee for their lives to reach safety in the UK and Europe. Or we can show compassion, demonstrate an enduring commitment to social justice, and look outwards, stretching out a hand of help and hope to the refugees who come to our shores seeking safety.  

“The direction our leaders choose to take will define us for generations to come and shape our position and perception on the global stage. 

“As a country that was the founding signatory of human rights treaties and conventions which champion the importance of universal rights and social justice it shouldn’t be a difficult choice. Now is the time to show the world that Britain is unwavering in its belief in a shared humanity and a global commitment to social justice for all people wherever they come from.”

The event is free and all are welcome. Book now for Doing Change: Education in Social Justice and Archbishop's Lecture via Eventbrite.

A portrait image of Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council
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