Solidarity walk with refugees and asylum seekers to end in Hastings

The five-day walk takes place in July
The five-day walk takes place in July

Around 150 people are set to arrive in Hastings at the end of five-day walk from Brighton in solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum.

The fifth annual Refugee Tales event takes place from Friday, July 5, to Wednesday, July 10.

The 10-mile walking arts festival brings together walkers, musicians, writers and storytellers.

Each evening after the day’s walk, a storytelling and music event will be held in the town it has reached, where music and the stories of people walking will be shared - including those of people who have experienced being detained.

Refugee Tales is calling for an end to the indefinite detention of people in immigration removal centres, some of whom spend years in detention, despite having committed no crime.

The final day of the walk, July 10, will see the 150-strong group travel from Bexhill to Crowhurst before ending in Hastings in the afternoon.

Walkers will rest at St Leonards beach before a sold-out event takes place at the Kino-Teatr, hosted by award-winning writer Kamila Shamsie who will introduce novelist and academic Abdulrazak Gurnah .

Mr Gurnah will read The Stateless Person’s Tale and another story will be read by a former immigration detainee, followed by a musical performance by renowned folk duo Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.

Dr Felicity Laurence, Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, said: “Hastings Community of Sanctuary welcomes Refugee Tales most warmly to Hastings, where this year’s walk will culminate.

“Their work in raising awareness of the grave injustice of the policy of indefinite detention in this country continues to make a powerful impact.

“We, as a member of the national City of Sanctuary, are also part of the current campaign to abolish indefinite detention, one of the most troubling aspects of current Home Office policy, alongside many other organisations including Amnesty and Liberty.

“In Hastings there are people who are at risk of being picked up with no warning and not reason given, often very early in the morning, taken roughly from their families, and detained in harsh conditions for an indeterminate period.

“We find this unacceptable, as do the MPs and Peers of the Joint Committee on Human Rights who earlier this year issued a strongly-worded call to end this profoundly unjust practice.”

The Refugee Tales project, which began in June 2015 and takes Chaucer’s poem of journeying as a model, strives to ‘reclaim the landscape of South East England for the language of welcome’.

Refugee Tales is working with politicians from all parties to try to change the law and introduce a 28 day time limit for detention.

It says that the UK is unique within Western Europe in that there is no maximum time limit on immigration detention.

While the maximum time limit for people to be detained in France is 45 days, in the UK detention is indefinite – people can be and are detained for months or even years.

It costs, on average, more than £30,000 to detain someone for a year.

The full schedule for the Refugee Tales walk is as follows:

Friday, July 5 – Meet in Brighton

Saturday, July 6 – Walk from Brighton to Lewes

Sunday, July 7 – Walk from Lewes to Alfriston

Monday, July 8 – Walk from Alfriston to Eastbourne

Tuesday, July 9 – Walk from Eastbourne to Bexhill

Wednesday, July 10 – Walk from Bexhill to Hastings.

For more information about the events taking place each evening, visit the website here

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