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University joins in special celebration of Swansea’s support for migrants

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Swansea University is playing a key role in helping shape youngsters’ knowledge about migration at a unique new city exhibition.

Home Away From Home, at Swansea Grand Theatre’s Multicultural Hub, is not only a celebration of the people and organisations who have been involved in making Swansea a City of Sanctuary for more than a decade but also hopes to shape public opinions about migration.

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Visitors will be able to find out more about the processes involved in migration as well as sharing touching migrants’ stories and displaying the work of Swansea City of Sanctuary (SCoS).

The University is one of 25 international partners in the EU-funded PERCEPTIONS Project which examines how Europe and the EU are seen by people who have immigrated there or intend to do so. The project will be using the exhibition as a chance to highlight its work as well as hosting special creative workshops for children aged from 7 to 11.

These workshops will allow pupils to interact with migration themes raised by the PERCEPTIONS project – faith, hope, loss, uncertainty, and disorientation – and create artworks based on those themes. It is hoped these can then be shared with EU partners.

The University’s involvement in the exhibition has been led by Professor Sergei Shubin, who heads Swansea’s PERCEPTIONS team and is director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research and his colleague Harrison Rees.

The event is part of Swansea University’s bid to become a University of Sanctuary, and many of schools who will be attending are also seeking to become Schools of Sanctuary.

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Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer, who leads Swansea’s bid to become the University of Sanctuary, said: “Swansea University’s commitment to developing a culture of sanctuary and creating a safe welcoming place for everyone draws on its institutional values and civic mission.

“We are dedicated to working with our wide community, including sanctuary seekers to support diversity, inclusivity and equality for the service of others.”

The exhibition had originally been planned to mark the 10th anniversary of Swansea becoming a City of Sanctuary but had to be postponed because of Covid-19 and Alan Thomas, co-chair of the Swansea City of Sanctuary, is delighted it was finally able to go ahead.

He said: “It is fitting that this comes just as there is a huge outpouring of support for refugees from Ukraine. There has also been a big increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum here from other world trouble-spots.

“We have always known that people in general are welcoming towards all who have had to flee their homes because of war or persecution, especially once they meet or hear directly from them.

“This is why a major element of our exhibition features stories of individuals who have been forced to leave their home and are now contributing to Swansea. Another part is about the ways in which Swansea has given people sanctuary and a warm Welsh welcome.”

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He said the exhibition is now set to go on display at other venues over the next year, inspiring as many people as possible to put their sympathy for those fleeing trauma to practical effect.

The exhibition will be running until April 7 and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm, Saturday 11am to 3pm. Closed on Sundays.

(All images: Swansea University)

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Arts and Entertainment

Cult brand ‘Bingo Lingo’ announces Swansea Arena show

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Cult bingo brand Bingo Lingo has announced it will be bringing its popular mad-cap style of bingo to Swansea Arena this October.

The unconventional bingo night, which has previously sold over a million tickets to revellers across cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Luton, has announced a huge one-off show at Swansea’s newest multipurpose entertainment venue – Swansea Arena.

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Past winners have walked away with prizes ranging from the incredible to the ridiculous; from a new car, electric scooters, to festival tickets, giant inflatables and holidays.

The team behind Bingo Lingo announced the event explaining that: “We operate in over 30 cities in the UK, but the shows in Cardiff and Swansea are some of our favourites. Every event we’ve held in Swansea has sold out and the summer series we did with The Swansea Bay Pop Up was so fun. We want to give the city a huge show and Swansea Arena was the obvious choice.”

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 10 August at 12pm.

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Film & TV

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds OBE confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

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Paralympian and former Olchfa Comprehensive School pupil, Ellie Simmonds OBE has been named as a contestant on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The five-time Paralympic champion and broadcaster joins previously announced contestants Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, Richie Anderson, Kaye Adams, Jayde Adams and Tyler West.

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Ellie Simmonds OBE said: “Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!! It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone. I’m going on Strictly Come Dancing!! I’m a tad nervous too, well more than a tad… I’m absolutely petrified!

“To be asked to be part of the Strictly family is just so exciting and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun. I’m counting down the minutes until it starts; learning to dance, meeting my partner and everyone else involved in the show. Plus wearing the sequins and all that, it’s going to be a blast.

“I’ve been watching Strictly from as far back as I can remember; it’s a traditional lead up to Christmas with my family and it’s a genuine privilege to be part of it.”

Ellie is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. At the age of thirteen, while a pupil at Olchfa Comprehensive School in Swansea, she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, and won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events.

In 2012 she achieved gold in the 400m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley at the Summer Paralympics in London and won a further gold in the 200m Individual Medley at Rio 2016. In addition she has won ten gold World Championship titles.

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At the age of 13 she won BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and a year later, at just 14 years old, she became the youngest person ever receive an MBE. She was elevated to OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to Paralympic sport.

After retiring from competitive swimming in 2020, Ellie has gone on to present for BBC Sport, most recently for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as making documentaries such as Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. She is set to explore disability and adoption in a recently announced ITV film.

(Lead image: BBC)

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Music

Theatre fans to get ‘Lost in Music’ at 70’s throwback tribute ‘One Night at the Disco’

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Hit 70’s concert show Lost in Music – One night at the disco is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September.

Disco’s roots are firmly founded in the early Seventies, says James Taylor, producer of the hit touring concert show Lost in Music, which hits Swansea’s Grand Theatre in the coming weeks.

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“It was a time when Motown Records’ biggest stars began to get funky,” he says. “Philadelphia Records became a hit song conveyor belt with its distinctive combination of soulful vocals and lush arrangements. And, soundtracks of movies – from Shaft to Car Wash – lifted the world to its dancing feet.”

By 1977, says James, disco was in full flow.

“Lost in Music fondly remembers the height of the disco era,” he says, “faithfully recreating the biggest hits of Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, Chic, Diana Ross, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Sister Sledge and more.

“Our company Entertainers produces scores of hit touring shows including the Magic of Motown, Fastlove, The Rocket Man and Thank You for the Music,” he says. “But, Lost in Music is by far our liveliest production. It’s non-stop dance anthems from curtain up.”

Disco tribute concert ‘Lost in Music – One night at the disco’ is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre

In fact, James admits a couple of mid-tempo tunes have had to be added to the 32-song set list to ‘give the audience a breather’.

“From worldwide ladies’ anthems like I’m Every Woman and I Will Survive,” says James, “to the Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards-produced Everybody Dance, We Are Family, I’m Coming Out, I Want Your Love and – of course – Lost in Music; plus the greatest hits from New York’s legendary Studio 54 Discotheque: You Make Me Feel Mighty Real, More than a Woman and Disco Inferno; and soul anthems Ain’t No Stopping us Now and Boogie Wonderland – it’s disco wrapped up into two hours of non-stop hits.”

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Backed by a talented live band, Lost in Music stars a cast boasting stunning vocals which combines this with the extravagant dance moves and fabulous fashion of the era, to bring the best the late Seventies had to offer to life, live on stage.

“Audiences are taken on a musical journey straight to the heart of disco by a band that just wants to play in front of crazy fans,” promises James. “Concertgoers are encouraged to come dressed to impress and to get involved.

“It’s the feel-good show of the year – come and get lost in music. . . “

Touring the UK with more than 200 dates in the diary for 2022, Lost in Music is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September 2022. Tickets are on sale now.

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