Sheffield Refugee Walks From Edale

By David Hanney
11, Oct, 2019

Taking refugees and asylum seekers to experience the beauty of getting out into the hills.

"Not a lot of money made an enormous difference" - Heather Hunt, The Conversation Club, Sheffield

Heather Hunt helps to run Sheffield Conversation Club. It’s an easy social space for asylum seekers and refugees to meet and grow their English speaking and listening skills. This diverse group of individuals are often isolated by language as well as their situation. She also spent many years as a Learning and Discovery Officer for our national parks – putting the two together was natural.

She was keen to take a group from the club into the hills. All that was needed was train fares from Sheffield to Edale, and a few ice creams might be nice. In a perfect example of how a little money can make an enormous difference, Heather’s application to Alpkit for twenty train fares and ice creams was agreed and a grand day out was planned. Everyone was early for the train, fit young men from Sudan and Somalia and an older woman from Eritrea, undaunted by her arthritis, plus families from Syria and Bhutan. Twenty people armed with their stoutest shoes and packed lunches were catching the train from Sheffield to Edale. Walking up Grindsbrook Clough and some of the Pennine Way quickly spread the group out. This didn’t last long as the fit young men at the front started doubling back to give assistance to the less able and throw the smaller kids onto their shoulders. A mountain stream bathed in sunshine exerted its usual magical powers and in no time the children were in the water, soon joined by a group of English kids.

Heather explains how the picnic brought everyone together. “There was none of that opening your own little sandwich bag nonsense.” Curries from Bhutan mixed with Syrian flatbread and African rice. The countryside around Edale, surprisingly reminded people of home – there’s something universal about nature that feels less foreign than the urban world. As always the heady mix of fresh air and exercise did the trick and on the train back to Sheffield this group of very different folks from very different lands were pretty much all snoozing off together.

Not a lot of money made an enormous difference.

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