Book offers rare insight into lives of refugees

Refugee Radio Times
Refugee Radio Times

A group of asylum seekers, vulnerable migrants and refugees have published a book.

A group of asylum seekers, vulnerable migrants and refugees have published a book about their experiences of leaving their home countries and coming to live in Brighton and Hove.

Refugee Radio Times, which has been published through local charity Refugee Radio, hopes to provide a fresh take on the subject of immigration, by letting the migrants themselves have a say – something which the people behind the book say is a luxury rarely afforded to them.

Each writer has been mentored by a professional journalist or writer living in the city and people coming to Brighton and Hove from Cameroon, Sudan, Turkey, Burma, Iran and Afghanistan have penned their own chapter.

It won’t be comfortable reading, but the publishers believe they are stories people need to hear – particularly as migrants continue to be demonised in some corners of the community.

Stephen Silverwood, of Refugee Radio, said: “One of our goals with this book was to give a voice to the voiceless. “We wanted to enable refugees and asylum seekers to contribute their own voices to the debates about them and to counteract some of the misinformation in the mainstream media.

“This book aims to present a more honest picture of migration to the city, with migrants themselves contributing to the debate on immigration.”

And it isn’t just about people who are new to the city. According to recent statistics the number of asylum seekers in Brighton and Hove is between 150 and 200. There are also a few dozen destitute former asylum seekers who have been refused permission to stay but have not been deported.

The number of refugees, however, is harder to calculate. Many people were given refugee status decades ago and have since gone on to naturalise as British citizens. There is no concrete number available but estimates suggest the figure is around the 4,000 mark.

Refugee Radio, which was formed in 2008, tries to give a voice to those people in a bid to show locals that immigration is not a clear-cut issue. Each case, each person has their own story.

Refugee Radio Times is about making those stories heard. It shares the voices of those who have battled torture and trauma in their journey to the UK and covers everything from identity, religion and persecution through to detention, mental-health and resilience.

Copies of the book, priced £5, are available at City Books in Hove, online via Amazon and direct from the charity at www.refugeeradio.org.uk.