In early July, walkers will stride out in solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and detainees for almost 60 miles along the Thames Path, highlighting the issue of indefinite immigration detention and calling for a 28-day time limit.
Around 100 modern-day pilgrims are expected to join the ‘Refugee Tales’ project, which takes its inspiration from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as a model of journeying and sharing stories. Each evening, prestigious writers will read tales of the refugee experience from collaborations with those who have directly experienced the UK asylum system.
The first two legs of the walk and evening events will take place in the Diocese of Guildford. On 1 July, walkers will begin in Runnymede and cover the 11 miles to Walton on Thames, where Booker shortlisted novelist Neel Mukherjee will tell ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ that evening, with music from na-mara.
On 2 July, pilgrims will tackle the 8 miles between Walton and Kingston, where entertainment awaits them from African musician Amadou Diagne and St Michael and All Angels Steel Orchestra, as well as tales from Vahni Capildeo and Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk.
Over the next three days, the walking group will make their way to Westminster via Brentford and Hammersmith, arriving on Wednesday 5 July.
See the full programme here.
Learn more about the writers of tales here.
Last year, Bryony Davis and Lisa Barrott, from holy::ground, an Anglican–Methodist fresh expression based in Woking, completed the full 58-mile route and were joined by other church members for other sections. Bryony said:
“Refugee Tales 2016 was an amazing experience. It was humbling to walk alongside those who had already crossed Europe on foot and to hear their stories. It was also shocking to hear first-hand from asylum seekers who had experienced detention – and to see the terrible impact it had on their mental health and wellbeing. Despite all they have been through, they were the most extraordinary, cheerful, grateful and humorous individuals, some of whom have become good friends.
“I think it would be hard to participate in Refugee Tales without being changed. Not only has it inspired me to do more to support asylum seekers and to campaign for an end to indefinite detention, it has challenged me to be more hospitable. It feels like a family to which I belong.”
To find out more about Refugee Tales 2017 see www.refugeetales.org, where you can also sign up to join the walkers for some or all of the route, or to attend an evening event along the way.
For information on our diocesan response to the refugee crisis, see http://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/refugees