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In 2015, visitors with Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) began Refugee Tales, an outreach project designed to raise the voice of people in detention and those who visit them. Unable to stay silent in the face of the stories they were hearing on a daily basis in detention, they decided to share these stories with communities across the UK. Taking inspiration from “Canterbury Tales” and the novel’s pilgrims, they decided to embark on a secular pilgrimage, travelling across different parts of the UK by foot to share the realities of detention, sure that people would want to hear and, in doing so, hearts and minds would be changed.  

This summer, 6th – 10thJuly, Refugee Tales are inviting people to join their walk between Edenbridge and Westminster alongside evening events of tales, music and dancing. The theme of Refugee Tales 2024 is human rights:

“This is the second time that the project has taken human rights as its theme. In 2018, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the project asserted that indefinite detention is a direct breach of a person’s human rights. As Article 9 of the Declaration states: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’ Since 2018, the status of human rights has been continuously eroded by UK legislation. Both the Nationality and Borders Act and the Illegal Migration Act have been deemed by the UNHCR to be in breach of the UK’s commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention. In calling for a future without detention, and for an immediate end to indefinite detention, Refugee Tales also calls for a re-commitment to human rights. The project re-asserts that no one should be subjected to arbitrary detention. It also insists that, in the event that indefinite detention is ended, that change of policy must apply to all. A future without human rights, and without clear political commitment to such rights, is a future of division, persecution, and vulnerability. In 2024, once again, human rights is the theme of the Refugee Tales walk."

David Herd, Co-Editor of Refugee Tales

Everyday, Refugee Tales walkers will walk between 8 and 11 miles. The route runs from northern Kent to Westminster, crossing the North Downs and going through green corridors into London.

Evening events will take place in Oxted, Caterham, Wallington, Wandsworth, and Westminster. This includes "The Tale of The Pessimistic Pragmatist" with Gee Manoharan, Co-Director at AVID on the evening of Monday 8th July:

“Detention dehumanises, strips dignity, and erodes hope. Walking with Refugee Tales, we reclaim our rights through collective solidarity. My journey from detainee to director unveils the raw truth of this sector—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Embracing our past mistakes is essential to educating and empowering a future grounded in justice and human rights. I share my story so that others may find the power they deserve, learn from our collective errors, and illuminate a path forward.”

 Gee Manoharan, Co-Director, AVID

You can join for the whole period, for just some of the days of walking or for an evening event. There are just a few spaces left and so get your tickets now to walk in solidarity with people in detention and reimagining what it means to commit to human rights in the present moment.  

Find out more and book your tickets here.

You can read more about previous Refugee Tales walks here:

Image: The Refugee Tales Walk from 2018

Watch: Hidden Stories