20th October 2021

Refugees Welcome Protest

♢ Parliament Square

The #RefugeesWelcome protest was organised in response to the Nationality and Boarders bill proposed by the Tory government.
The bill wold criminalise asylum seekers who arrive in the U.K. via irregular routes, in clear contravention of international law.
The rally in Parliament Square was part of a week of protests against the bill, 

which saw many organisations and supporters who support refugee rights come together to show their opposition to the government.

Agnes Tanoh

“My name is Agnes Tanoh.  I’m from west Africa.  I reached the U.K. in 2011, and I claimed asylum.  It took me seven years to get refugee status.

During my process, I was put in detention in Yarls Wood.  So I know how harmful detention is.  I still carry the scars today of that period.  It traumatisés people.  Some of those who were in there with me tried to commit suicide.

I’m here today because I don’t want that happening to other people.  These are people who are in danger in their own country, and they have come to seek sanctuary.  And the government puts them into a detention centre, which is like a prison.  It’s not fair, it’s really not fair.

I went through the system.  I know how it is for women, it’s a terrible experience.  It destroys families.”

Sarah and Ginger 

“I’m Sarah, I’m a semi-retired doctor.  I’ve worked with Médecins Sans Frontière for three or four years in refugee camps in the Congo, Ethiopia, Calais and in Greece.  I’ve seen what it’s like to be a refugee stuck in this crisis.

I would like to think that if any of my children were in that situation that they would get looked after somehow, by whoever took them in.  I hoped that we as a country would act in that way.  And I’m here to demand that the government starts to adhere to its moral duty.”

Rainbow Sisters

“We are the Rainbow Sisters, fighting for the rights of refugee women.  And we want people to know we are human, and no human is illegal.  We are here to stay.”


“My name is Carenza from Women for Refugee Women.  There’s a new detention centre that is planned to open in County Durham later this month.  We think it’s going to detain up to 100 women, but we don’t have full details from the Home Office yet.

The Home Office have said themselves that detaining women is harmful, it’s detrimental to their mental health.  During Covid we saw a big reduction in the number of women who were being detained, and we though this would be a chance for change.  But the Home Office have now turned their back on this and are opening this new centre.

A local resident has brought a legal challenge to take the Home Office and Durham County Council to court, which is our best hope to stop the centre opening.  But if not we’re going to keep campaigning, and we’re not going to stop until we shut it down.”


“My name is Chris Purnell.  I still work part time as a first tier tribunal judge in the Social Entitlement Chamber.  Occasionally there come before me, people who have been refugees who are refused benefits.  And very often, the reasons for this are unjust.  I have huge sympathy with them going through this horrible system.

Because I only work part time, I wanted to come out today and show my support for refugees and make them feel welcome in this country.”


“My name is Rory,  I’m part of Kings College London Student Action for Refugees Society.

I’m here because I’m appalled by how the government is treating refugees who are seeking safe passage to the U.K. I strongly believe that no human is illegal.

I think it’s important that we all show our solidarity with refugees across the world.”


“My name is Davis.  I came to this country as a refugee from Uganda.  This bill, if it is passed, will create a lot of difficulties and challenges for people who are trying to come here.  Those who are not safe and need help.  It will only increase the discrimination against refugees and displaced people.

It’s important for me to come and show support for those who are in danger.”


“My name is Ben.  I’ve always been a fan of multiculturalism and meeting people from different parts of the world.

I ended up going to Calais in 2016 for about four months, and witnessed the reality of the refugee crisis with my own eyes.  I defended I needed to educate myself about what is happening in the world.  So since then I’ve been supporting causes like this and campaigning for better treatment of refugees.

I remember speaking to a vicar in the Calais camp.  He said to me that it’s important to help people in need to get out of the river.  But we have to go up stream and find out who is pushing them in.”


The Worldwide Tribe

"We produce creative content to bring a personal, human perspective to the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time…the Refugee Crisis.

We use film, photography and storytelling to raise awareness and in turn, support grassroots projects making a direct impact to people on the ground.

We believe that the world is getting smaller. It’s time to come together regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion or language, as one global community of international citizens; The Worldwide Tribe."

"Our friends @theballadoftoninho and @luketapley attended the #RefugeesWelcome rally yesterday to document all the lovely support for the refugee community here in the UK, and the opposition to the impending #AntiRefugeeBill. Here are just a few photos and stories behind the incredible turnout at this event— with more to come in our stories this week!

This bill could have drastic effects on the treatment of women, and the reunification of families, and organizations like @4refugeewomen are making a stand against this injustice. One of their action items is stopping Hassockfield from being turned into an immigration detention centre for women. You can check out the link in their bio to sign the petition, created by Agnes Tanoh, pictured above, and join this movement. "




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