Niamh Cusack hosts Refugee Tales event to welcome The Walk ​

Sam Wood
Actor Niamh Cusack

Acclaimed actor Niamh Cusack will host an evening of stories and music by the Refugees Tales project on 21 October (7pm).

Participants include: poet Patience Agbabi FRSL; AJ, a former Kent student and person with lived experience of indefinite immigration detention; broadcaster, journalist and filmmaker Bidisha; and musician Liran Donin.

The event, which takes place at the Gulbenkian Arts Centre on the University’s Canterbury campus, is part of the celebrations connected with The Walk, an 8000km travelling festival of art and hope that aims to focus attention on the urgent needs of young refugees. The focal point and central figure of The Walk is Little Amal, a 3.5m tall puppet of a young refugee girl designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company, the world-famous creators of War Horse.

Little Amal will arrive at the University’s Canterbury campus for a series of special events on 21 October, having set out from Turkey’s Syrian border in July. Along the way, she will have passed through Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. Her arrival at the University will take the form of a procession from Canterbury Cathedral, accompanied by 350 school children.

Launched in 2015, Refugee Tales is a collaboration that brings together refugees, writers, poets, actors, musicians, filmmakers and other creatives to share the stories of people who have experienced indefinite immigration detention in the UK, and to call for this system to end.

The project has published several volumes of tales of lived experiences of detention, with a copy of the latest edition being presented to Little Amal as a gift upon her arrival. The project’s supporters include Jeremy Irons, Billy Bragg, Kamila Shamsie, Shami Chakrabarti and Christy Lefteri. Its patrons are Ali Smith and the 2021 Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah.

David Herd, Professor of Modern Literature at Kent and organiser of Refugee Tales said: ‘Refugee Tales is honoured to welcome Amal and The Walk to the University of Kent. The project will share stories of people with lived experience of seeking asylum and in so doing will express solidarity with Amal’s message of hope. The University itself has a long history of working to change the narrative around migration, as is reflected in the fact that Migration and Movement is now one of the University’s first Signature Research Themes. Amal’s visit provides an opportunity to show how literature and art can help change politics. Refugee Tales Welcomes Amal will be a powerful event.’

The Walk is the first major community event to be produced by the University’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, which programmes diverse cultural events to make new connections between academics, local communities and the creative industries in Kent.

Further details and booking information is available here.

Further information on how to join The Walk from Canterbury Cathedral on 21 October is available here.

Poet Patience Agbabi

Journalist and filmmaker Bidisha

Musician Liran Donin