Here’s a little known Beatles fact about Refugee Action. Our Liverpool office, where asylum seekers and refugees can come for advice and support, is based in the building where John Lennon married his first wife Cynthia Powell in 1962. It’s great to be part of such a unique story, but working in a tourist attraction isn’t always smooth sailing. Tour companies drive hundreds of visitors past the building each year, and it can be difficult for staff to explain why some of the people they support, who can be vulnerable and frightened, might not want their photo taken. The team wanted to turn this situation around, so they approached the Fab Four Taxi Tour Company – one of Liverpool’s most iconic Beatles tours – to see if they could work together.
The Fab Four Tour’s drivers are incredibly knowledgeable about Liverpool’s history and the story of The Beatles, and the team thought they might like to learn more about what goes on in the building now. With the 50 year anniversary of John and Cynthia’s wedding coming up, staff suggested joining forces with the drivers to open up the office to tours on the anniversary of the wedding, August 23rd. Refugee Action doesn’t usually open its office to the general public – its focus is on providing urgent support to asylum seekers and refugees - but on this day tourists will be able to see the room where the wedding took place, with staff and volunteers on hand to chat about their work. A mere seven minutes after this was suggested, the tour company were at the office to discuss a plan for the day – an encouraging sign for anyone in Liverpool needing a taxi in a hurry!
“I couldn’t imagine being forced to leave my home.”
In preparation for the open day, six of Fab Four Tour’s drivers attended a refugee awareness session delivered by Liverpool’s Shared Awareness Project. This was an eye-opener for all involved. One driver said that he would now be better able to respond to his passengers when they said misinformed things about asylum seekers, and others told the team they couldn’t imagine being forced to leave their homes. Refugee Action is committed to making the UK a more welcoming place for asylum seekers and refugees, and workshops like those by Shared Awareness – who travel all around Liverpool, speaking to businesses, schools, church groups and many more each month - are a great way to make this happen!
“I now have a vision where every taxi driver in the city will have an informed opinion on asylum!”
It was great for Shared Awareness to work with a brand new group of people who are just as passionate about the great city of Liverpool as they are. “It was extremely moving to hear the drivers say that they would talk to their passengers about our work,” said Refugee Action’s Liverpool Area Manager Julie Kashirahamwe. “It’s inspired us to think about how Shared Awareness can reach out to more taxi drivers in Liverpool. I now have a vision that every taxi driver in the city will have an informed opinion on asylum!”. The team is looking forward to the open day itself, which will hopefully be just as exciting. If you’d like to take part in a tour on the day and see where John Lennon got married, you can book a place via the Fab Four Taxi Tour website.
Posted by Eleanor Dean