Refugee Tales - The Walk 2022 (2-6 July)

Gary Hughes

The 2022 Refugee Tales Walk will take place from 2 to 6 July. This year’s route will start in Merstham, Surrey, and end at The Stripe Theatre in Winchester, Hampshire.

The Refugee Tales project, which began in 2015, centres on an annual walk designed to raise awareness of the situation of those held in indefinite detention in the UK. It also calls for an immediate end to this system.

The project was initiated by Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) in collaboration with refugees and people who have experienced detention, alongside writers, poets, actors, musicians, filmmakers and other creative practitioners. It is co-organised by David Herd, Professor of Modern Literature at the University’s School of English, and Anna Pincus from the GDWG. Its supporters include Jeremy Irons, Billy Bragg, Kamila Shamsie, Shami Chakrabarti and Christy Lefteri. Its patrons are Ali Smith and the 2021 Nobel Laureate for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah.

To date, the project has published four volumes of tales of lived experiences of detention via Comma Press, with Professor Herd’s most recent poetry collection (Walk Song; Shearsman Books) weaving in and out of the project.

The Walk 2022 will include readings by writers Amy Sackville, Tessa McWatt, Bidisha, and Simon Smith, among others. Along the way there will be music and talks, including a briefing on the imminent publication of the report of Refugee Tales’ ‘Walking Inquiry into Immigration Detention’, to be launched in Parliament on 19 July. There will also be a talk by representatives of the project’s Parliamentary self-advocacy group, describing how Refugee Tales’ political strategy is led by people with lived experience of detention. Hosts include journalists Amelia Gentleman and Aida Edemariam, artist Ridy Wasolua, and actor Niamh Cusack, among others.

Commenting on this year’s walk, Professor Herd said: ‘The theme of Refugee Tales 2022 is solidarity. In this first full-scale walk since the beginning of the pandemic, the project will again share stories of people who have sought asylum in the UK and who, in so doing, have been indefinitely detained. Talks by the Refugee Tales self-advocacy group, and about the Walking Inquiry into Immigration Detention, will show how the project is looking to change the politics of asylum. As the government intensifies its hostility towards people seeking refuge in the UK, it has never been more important to call for detention to end.’

Anna Pincus commented: ‘With GDWG recently working to support people threatened with flights to Rwanda, the work of the charity and its 70 volunteers has intensified with the strengthening of the hostile environment. Refugee Tales walkers, however, dismantle the hostile environment through walking and story sharing, through hospitality, welcome and joy in community.’

The final event in The Walk 2022 is sponsored by the University’s Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme, a vibrant community of scholars and practitioner academics working in the field of migration and movement. Writer Kamila Shamsie was announced as its inaugural New Imaginaries Fellow earlier this year

Further information on The Walk 2022, including how to participate, is available here.

Refugee Tales IV