Giant puppet Little Amal to visit Camden

Little Amal, Trafalgar Square. Copyright: David Levene / The Walk Productions. Free for use by partners of BBC news wire service

A giant puppet of a Syrian refugee will be joining Camden residents for a celebration of welcome, faith and friendship.

Little Amal, the 3.5m (12 foot) puppet of a ten-year-old girl, will  lead an interfaith celebration at Granary Square on 2 April as Camden marks its status as a Borough of Sanctuary for refugees.

This sees Camden pledge to ensure it is a place for everyone, recognising “that the UK is enriched by new arrivals” and does not tolerate hate crime, discrimination or harassment.

The iftar gathering will be close to St Pancras station where refugees from the war in Ukraine are welcomed by council staff as they arrive by train.

Since July 2021, Little Amal has travelled 9,000km in 13 countries, including Ukraine and been greeted by more than a million people.

The puppet visited London in 2021 on her journey from Syria to Manchester and again in 2022.

Her day in Camden starts with a visit to JW3, the Jewish Community Centre in Finchley Road at 10.30am and the Lymington Road estate in West Hampstead where  the community will use music, song, and storytelling to introduce Amal to the tale of Passover and the flight from Egypt.

People can make their own puppets or models to greet Little Amal.

The puppet heads to the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate on Rowley Way at 2pm and will be greeted by folk musicians, steel pan bands, and gospel choirs with performances from the London Irish Centre, Steel Pan Music and Camden Community Choir and puppetry from Sue Walpole.

There is also an opportunity to make birds to fly alongside the puppet.

Residents of Somers Town will meet her at Chalton Road at 6pm  as she visits the estate and the British Library and she will lead a lantern parade  accompanied by Arabic drumming to Granary Square for an interfaith iftar gathering at 6.45pm.

The event has been arranged by Somers Town Community Centre,  together with the British Library, Somers Town playwriting project Scene & Heard, UAL: Central Saint Martins and Women’s Interfaith Network.

The iftar – breaking of the fast during Ramadan- has been organised by the Ramadan Tent Project and Dishoom with music from Muslim arts collective WAW Creative Arts.

Tickets for the iftar will be available from Friday March 24.

All the events are free and organisers hope they will bring communities together in a celebration for families of all ages.

Councillor Sabrina Francis, Camden’s cabinet member for young people and culture  said: “We are so excited that Little Amal is visiting Camden. As a borough, we have a long and proud history of providing sanctuary and support for those fleeing violence and persecution to help re-build their lives.

“Our diverse and vibrant communities make Camden the special place that it is and I’m proud that we are now recognised as a ‘borough of sanctuary’ to send a message that our borough is open to all.”

Camden has recently provided homes for refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.

Cllr Francis encouraged people to get involved in the activities on the day.

“I hope residents and visitors will join us in welcoming Little Amal and show our support for refugees in the borough as we celebrate our inter-faith communities and multiculturalism.”

Little Amal is also visiting London’s financial centre at the City of London on Wednesday 29 March.

Her itinerary will take her to the Tower of London, Paternoster Square, Leadenhall Market and Bloomberg Arcade as she helps raise money for displaced children worldwide.

More information: Walk with Amal.

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