St Albans walkers to raise awareness for indefinite detention at Gatwick Airport

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 May 2018

Refugee Tales walkers. Picture: Chris Orange

Refugee Tales walkers. Picture: Chris Orange


Volunteers are trekking 55 miles into London to stand in solidarity with refugees.

David Herd telling a detainee's story. Picture: Chris OrangeDavid Herd telling a detainee's story. Picture: Chris Orange

A large group of walkers are setting off from Fleetville Community Centre in July as part of the Refugee Tales project - an outreach program organised by the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The detainees group is a charity which provides support to people incarcerated indefinitely at Gatwick Airport.

Over five days, the hikers are walking from St Albans to Westminster via Hertford, Waltham Abbey, Chingford and Stoke Newington.

At each stop, there will be an evening event where professional writers, musicians and poets will share the true stories of immigrants detained at airports indefinitely.

Ali Smith telling a detainee's story. Picture: Chris OrangeAli Smith telling a detainee's story. Picture: Chris Orange

Refugee Tales has worked with the University of Kent to secure top writers and stay true to Chaucer’s book, which is a collection of 24 stories written in middle English.

Co-founder of the walk, Mary Barrett, has been visiting detainees at Gatwick once a week for 20 years.

Mary said: “We are not saying people shouldn’t be detained or removed from this country if they are illegally here, we are just saying holding people without a time limit is very damaging for their minds and is very inefficient.”

She stressed Britain is the only country in the European Union where people are legally detained indefinitely.

RefugeeTales walkers. Picture: Chris OrangeRefugeeTales walkers. Picture: Chris Orange

“Many people who would consider themselves informed don’t know about it because it’s a well kept secret in this country - but we are trying to inform people and raise awareness.”

She added: “It’s changed a lot in 20 years, it’s a lot tougher now and that’s why we are trying to change the rules - it can’t go on for another 20 years.”

This is the fourth year running the fundraiser has taken place. Accommodation is provided for each night of the trip, and walkers can sign up for one night, the weekend, or the whole journey.

The walk starts on July 7. All the evening events are open to the public. Entry is free.

NaMara. Picture: Jerome OHeaNaMara. Picture: Jerome OHea

Book and find out more at

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Herts Advertiser