About Refugee Tales

Refugee Tales

A Walk In Solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Detainees

Refugee Tales is an outreach project of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group inspired by the experiences of men held in immigration detention at Gatwick and the work of the Group in more than 20 years of visiting.


In June 2015 and in July 2016, 2017 and 2018 the Refugee Tales project walked in solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees. As the project walked it reclaimed the landscape of South East England for the language of welcome, and everywhere it stopped it was met with hospitality and enthusiasm. Working directly in collaboration with those who had experienced the UK asylum system, and taking Chaucer’s great poem of journeying as a model, established writers told a series of tales en route. Through that sharing of other people’s tales the project gathered and communicated experiences of migration, seeking to show, in particular, what indefinite detention means.

There is a huge number of still images of the Refugee Tales Walk of 2016 from the brilliant photographer Sarah Hickson here.

In July 2018, Refugee Tales walked from St Albans to Westminster stopping at Hertford, Waltham Abbey, Chingford and Stoke Newington, still calling for the practice of indefinite immigration detention to end. At every stop of the way leading writers helped tell the tales of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees, as well as the stories of those who work with them. Always as the project walks it creates a space in which the language of welcome is the prevailing discourse, a political carnival in which the act of listening is a common resource.

Since Refugee Tales walked first time the debate around human movement has fluctuated dramatically, as pressure for a change of policy on indefinite detention has continued to build. It is a cruel and debilitating practice that continues to do untold damage to tens of thousands of lives.

Thank you to our patrons, Ali Smith and Abdulrazak Gurnah.


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