Carlisle’s first Unity Festival will be held this Saturday, 6th August. The exiting new event adds to the City’s diverse and growing community spirit, and will be happening from 10 am to 4pm in the City Centre.
The idea is to build unity among the many diverse groups in the city and promote the idea that Carlisle is a welcoming and inclusive place where we can all feel valued, regardless of our circumstances.
Taking place across the city centre, bandstand and inside the Old Town Hall, Carlisle Unity Festival has been developed by AWAZ Cumbria, Carlisle One World Centre, Op Shops and a number of interested individuals with the funding support of Carlisle City Council and Abbeyfield Society Community First Fund administered by Cumbria Community Foundation.
The purpose is to bring knowledge, support, interaction, activity and fun to the city in the areas of unity, community and diversity.
The Carlisle Unity Festival welcomes all communities, ages and abilities. People from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and other marginalised groups living in Carlisle who are often underrepresented in mainstream civic activities will be encouraged and supported in empowering their voices through information stalls, food, workshops and performances.
The Old Town Hall will host a Global Coffee Morning with cakes from around the world. There will also be a range of events to encourage communication and bring us together: A Conversation Cafe, Cafe Lingo and a number of interesting talks from Carlisle residents making a difference across the community, locally and internationally.
Alfonso Bitton ( ex-homeless ) will be holding a ‘Photography of the Lakes’ exhibition- proving that community can make a difference to people’s lives, while also celebrating the region he now calls ‘home’.
Carlisle One World Centre will hold a ‘Rethinking Ideas of home ‘ exhibition, while Speak Easy will hold word and poetry workshops on the ‘unity’ theme.
Outdoors, there will be entertainment from Carlisle Clog and Sword, Dukelele and a Blue Jam samba drums workshop.
Stalls in city centre will be providing information on local activities, including Border City Rollers, The Majic Tent, Palestine Solidarity Group, Sustainable Carlisle, Cumbria Caravan Voluntary Services and Carlisle Lions. Massive outpouring of Love (MOOL) from Dumfries will have a stall showcasing their work in support of refugees and local communities.
Volunteers of Creative Well-being will be providing health and well-being information and Bespoke Mind will provide complementary therapies. Mohammed Dhalech from AWAZ Cumbria will deliver a workshop on tackling racism and fostering good relations within communities.
Cumbria Pride/LGBTHQ and Terrence Higgins Trust will provide information and advice on LGBT equality and services.
Carlisle Refugee Action Group will be erecting a ready-made ‘shelter’, as used by refugees in Calais to protect them from the elements, and The Magic Tent will be running a Friendship Bracelet Workshop.
The organisers hope to build on the great community spirit that was so wonderfully demonstrated following Storm Desmond and the floods, while providing a platform for community groups to promote themselves.
“People in Carlisle often complain that there is nothing to do or nothing happening, while those who are trying to raise awareness of their group find it difficult to get the word out.” One of the originators of the event, Fiona Goldie, told us. “We hope that our festival will meet both aims- bringing people together, showing the people what is on offer within the community, things they can get involved in, and through that, we can build links with each other, make connections, and build a stronger sense of community.”
“This is especially pertinent in the light of the current political situation and the rise in hate crime, mistrust, in-fighting and resentment that is seeping into daily life.” said Aftab Khan of AWAZ Cumbria, who is coordinating the event. “We hope that this will be the first of many Carlisle Unity Festivals. We hope to make it an annual community event which will assist with integration and reach out to all those who are currently marginalised in some way- young people, homeless, disabled -celebrating our diversity and encouraging involvement in community groups and activities.”