Refugee Group Walks
Every mile matters because the Coast Path can bring us together and give us a sense of belonging
For someone arriving to the country as a refugee or asylum seeker, there are lots of essentials that need addressing such as housing, finances, language and health. There are organisations which play an important part in this such as START (Students and Refugees Together) and Devon & Cornwall Refugee Support (DCRS) - both in Plymouth. Perhaps less-often considered, but arguably equally important, is to establish ways for newly-settled people to support their mental and physical health. Getting outside to explore nature is a great way to do this, but can be a daunting prospect with many barriers to overcome if you aren’t familiar with a place or its customs.
What we did
The South West Coast Path Association has teamed up with these two local Plymouth organisations, who support refugees from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Sierra Leone, and as part of their walking programme we have been able to introduce their groups to the amazing National trail on their doorstep – the South West Coast Path. We have led a number of walks during 2019 and 2020 - taking the groups on public transport from Plymouth, out to the Coast Path in south Devon. We are accompanied by Fotonow who support and train the participants in taking photographs of their experiences.
How it helped
Walking on the Coast Path sparks lots of interesting discussions around rural life in Britain on topics such as: what types of crops we grow, the animals that live here, where you can and can’t walk, footpath signage, and generally what life is like for people here. The groups learn how to access the countryside from the city in which they now live, and are often keen to revisit the Path with their children.
The walks enable participants to walk and talk and get away from their normal routines. We get some great feedback. Here are a few examples of the things people have said afterwards:
- “I think is a good activity for myself because it’s good to meet people and visit a new place in Plymouth”
- “It was very interesting and discovering new area and wonderful place. I helped me to take nice photos, and relax”
- “It was very good. Nice, beautiful. People were so nice, thank you. It was a very good day. Beautiful old place. Trips like this are helpful, get people to walk, do something else than coming to this centre and home. I got to know new people and place.”
- “It was a life experience to me to see the beautiful places and nice fields, nice houses there. It helped me to see that anywhere I go there is something special about it”
- “I feel peace. The sea in my country looks like this.”