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What can we do together to make our city more inclusive?

Smiley Talk
Press release
Powerful stories and ping-pong at the Smiley Movement’s Refugee Week event. Changing perceptions, opening up recruitment, and the ‘power of play’ were just a few of the many ideas and proposals discussed at a Refugee Week event, co-hosted by Smiley Movement and Ambigo.   Addressing the theme of improving social inclusion in the city of Brighton & Hove, a panel including Caroline Lucas MP, CEOs from charities and social enterprise, community group leaders and former refugees shared their thoughts with an audience of over 80 people at the city’s Exeter Street Hall.    Co-host and Community Interest Company Ambigo helped to facilitate the event, a serious yet joyful occasion which included inspiring speakers, lively discussions, table tennis games, and an ‘ambition workshop’ that generated dozens of connections between those in attendance.   “People need to make sure their councils, politicians and community representatives know that inclusion is important in their town,” said Lucas, the local Green MP.   “Bosses need to look at their recruitment,” added Mel Steel, the CEO of Brighton’s Voices in Exile. “They need to adjust the process to attract people with the skills that refugees might have.”   The panel discussion included powerful testimony from several refugees who have made their home in the area, who discussed the challenges of settling down against a backdrop of a negative public discourse.   Naqeeb Saide from Afghanistan told the audience how he joined the Brighton Table Tennis Club, a welcoming environment where no one was bothered about where he came from. He was just given a bat and allowed to play. “It made me feel a part of the group,” he said.  Naqeeb went on to become a ‘Young Leader’ for Brighton’s Hummingbird Refugee Project, who tweeted afterwards about their pride in seeing Naqeeb talk “so eloquently” about his experience.   Also from Afghanistan, Zia Afif discussed the need to counter the anti-refugee discourse, by promoting and celebrating refugee achievements all year round. Now a campaigner supporting asylum-seeking foster children, Zia explained why “inclusion is a two-way street.”   The importance and the benefits of inclusion were not only heard loud and clear at this event, but also visibly demonstrated by those present.  There were a lot of big smiles by the end of the night.   By Theo Hooper    


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Pranav Chopra

CEO at Nemi Teas

Pranav Chopra

Pranav Chopra is a passionate social entrepreneur and has been involved in a number of ventures with a social development agenda at their core.

Caroline Lucas, MP

Green Party

Caroline Lucas, MP

Caroline Lucas is a Green Party MP who has twice led the party. An advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in the UK and the MP for Brighton Pavilion since 2010.




I am a campaigner, co-founder of Worthing Ping United Table Tennis Club, coach, student and a refugee from Afghanistan


Advocate for Asylum Seekers


Zia arrived in the UK 20 years ago as an asylum seeker and has worked with unaccompanied asylum seeking children ever since

Kate McAllister

Co-founder, Crisis Classroom

Kate McAllister

Co-founder Crisis Classroom, The Human Hive & Rethinking Education. Former teacher in international schools and refugee camps.

Mel Steel

Director, Voices in Exile

Mel Steel

Nemi Teas
Crisis Classroom
Voice in exile
Brighton Table Tennis Club
Green Party
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