A couple of years ago, I found something out about the town I grew up in. Just a few miles from my childhood home, around 200 men sit behind high walls and barbed wire fences, totally separated from the world around them. But they aren’t there because they’re criminals or because they’re dangerous. They’re there because they are refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers.
I visited this centre when I was studying in London. By this point I had lived in London for a while, but Oxford to me was still my childhood home. Going to the detention centre, and meeting asylum seekers, refugees and the people who had vowed to help them was a turning point for me. It was suddenly personal.
Every person I’ve met who has been detained or made a refugee has inspired me. Their optimism in the face of adversity, though waning, is incredibly moving.
As a journalist and an anthropologist, I love hearing about the different kinds of lives that people lead. I want to celebrate the cultural diversity that the earth allows to flourish. Living in London, I am lucky enough to be in the centre of one of the world’s most diverse cities, and I want to make sure it keeps that reputation.
Visiting Greece, Turkey, and France, I have been on the frontline of the refugee crisis in Europe. I have direct access to information about the situation that isn’t available to everyone. This is what HumanRefuge(e) is about for me. It’s about giving people the opportunity to feel the personal connection that I have felt. It’s about communication through all the media we have available to us. It’s about engaging with the lives of other people, be they around the corner or halfway around the world.