These were the kinds of comments we heard over and over again, as people left the hall after the afternoon event, ‘Conversations with Refugees’ , hosted by Village of Sanctuary on Saturday, 16 March 2019. 51 people in total came to hear first-hand the personal stories of three refugees who had had to flee their own countries, their homes and their families, to seek refuge and safety in the UK.   We also heard witness testimony from a volunteer working with refugees in the Aegean.

It was very clear, as we sat in our small groups over a cuppa and cake, how emotionally painful it was at times for our guests to tell their own stories and to answer the many questions of their listeners.   Most of us were struck by their open-heartedness, resilience and bravery as they related the journeys they have navigated – not just physical journeys, but also psychological, and bureaucratic. It was very clear too that most of us there came away with a much deeper understanding of the issues facing refugees and asylum-seekers at every step of their journeys – so much shared and so much learned by all of us.