Who is Little Amal, when and why is she coming to Birmingham?

A giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee has embarked on a tour of England and she’s visiting Birmingham city centre this morning (Thursday, June 23)

She’s visited Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford and Leeds on her latest tour of England and is due to visit Birmingham this morning.

It’s not the first time Little Amal has come to Brum. She won hearts and minds when she came to Erdington in October.

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Her trip to the north Birmingham suburb was part of an epic journey across Europe which had began in Syria a year ago.

Little Amal on Erdington High Street

Who is Little Amal and why is she coming to Birmingham city centre?

Little Amal is a huge 3.5m tall  puppet representing a ten year-old refugee girl from Syria, where a civil war has been raging for years.

She is designed to highlight the plight of child refugees and has become an international symbol of human rights. She visited Ukraine 5 weeks ago.

She first arrived in the UK while she was doing The Walk in late July, setting off from Gaziantep in Turkey.

Now she is marking World Refugee Week by visiting 11 towns and cities across England, including Birmingham, as part of her New Steps New Friends tour meeting old friends and making new ones - sharing a message of resilience and hope with anyone who has been forced to leave their homes saying: "Don’t forget about us."

The huge public art project was put together by Good Chance, led by its artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi, in collaboration with Handspring Puppet Company which is famed for creating and bringing to life the four-legged members of War Horse’s cast.

Artistic director Amir Nazir said: "The whole project stems from the idea that refugees are thought of as a problem, when actually they’re not, they’re potential. By walking with Amal through cities and through communities, creating a big art spectacle and creating big moments where the community can gather and think of itself and how it receives others, proves the case that refugees shouldn’t be regarded as a burden. The awareness to the plight of refugees is always crucial."

Little Amal

How does Little Amal work?

Three or four puppeteers control Little Amal. Two operate the arms using poles attached to the hands, one puppeteer supports the back, and the interior puppeteer stands on stilts within the legs.

When is Little Amal in Birmingham and what will happen at the event?

The free event will see Little Amal walk through the centre of Birmingham meeting different ‘families’ made up of relatives, friends and community groups from across Birmingham’s diverse population to celebrate everything Brummie!

The event will begin at 11.30am outside the Council House and will see Little Amal walk from Victoria Square, through Paradise to Centenary Square.

Each family group along the route will be posing for a special photo portrait featuring giant frames which will welcome Amal into each of their unique group photographs.

Who has helped organise the Birmingham city centre event?

The Rep theatre in Chamberlain Square is producingLittle Amal’s first-ever visit to Birmingham city centre. Her visit is being supported by Birmingham City Council in partnership with Active Arts.

What else is happening for Refugee Week in Birmingham?

As a City of Sanctuary, Birmingham prides itself in welcoming refugees across the world - including those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

There will be a Healing Party at Centrala in Digbeth on today (Thursday, June 23) which will feature a performance by the city council’s choir.

The theme for this year’s Refugee week is healing. The events across the week aim to celebrate the diversity, creativity and resilience of refugees.

There are a whole host of events happening across Birmingham all week, including a self portraits exhibition, solidarity walk, live music at Symphony Hall and the MAC and more. To see the full click here: Birmingham Refugee Week events

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