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Art Refuge is creating a safe space for refugees on Napier Barracks' doorstep

The charity supports the mental health and wellbeing of people displaced due to conflict, persecution and poverty and is hoping to turn Folkestone into a safe refuge for refugees

Folkestone – the site of the controversial Napier Barracks – is on the frontline. In this area boats are arriving every day carrying desperate people taking desperate lengths to find safety and refuge, provoking a mixed response from the locals. 

While some offer support, others have felt resentful of their presence, leading to friction.

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In an attempt to help bridge the gap, Art Refuge supports the mental health and wellbeing of people displaced due to conflict, persecution and poverty.

They have held activities in the Calais Jungle camp, but this year turned their attention to this side of the Channel. Popping up across the town are a number of curious-looking creatures. They’re easy to miss and, though small, carry a big message. 

Asylum Seekers Inside Napier Barracks
Young male asylum seekers hanging out inside Napier Barracks on the 3rd of June 2021, Folkestone, United Kingdom. Despite todays high court ruling that the Home Offices detention of Asylum seekers in Napier Barracks was unlawful, over 250 asylum seekers are still being kept in unsuitable, accommodation, they are experiencing mental health issues as well as being vulnerable to health conditions including COVID-19. (photo by Andrew Aitchison / In pictures via Getty Images)

Many newly arrived men are taken to Napier Barracks, being held in conditions ruled as unlawful back in June. Collaborating with the Kent Refugee Action Network, Art Refuge have gone in to deliver workshops, which has included making these models  – a project curated by artist Aida Silvestri. 

Local people have been invited to host the mini-sculptures, finding a safe and welcoming home that the migrants themselves are not able to have. 

Poster-image-23

One of the participants, Amani, said: “It was such a great experience, we learned many new skills and I hope to do it again. I love the skill which showed us how to take pictures, learning new poses.” 

Hundreds of Small Tails is at various locations in Folkestone until October 28

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