Walking, talking and listening from Dover to Iona

Projects For All is launching the first Listening Pilgrimage, a project designed to allow us to learn from refugees in the UK and the communities that they will be joining. 

Between April and June 2017 we will walk roughly 1,000km from Dover to the Scottish island of Iona. We will listen to some of those who have been affected by one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. We will travel with open minds to explore both sides of the story. Our goal is to nurture a conversation about integration, human rights, community, vulnerability, fear and cooperation.

Whilst we do not know the outcomes, we anticipate that the pilgrimage will help pave the way for future projects.

The route will be tailored to visit refugee communities, groups that have welcomed refugees and those who are resistant to the arrival of new immigrants.

  • We will invite people to share their stories and in doing so try to identify the attitudes, values and ideologies of a cross-section of people across the UK.
  • We seek to create a thread of conversation on the subject of refuge in the UK from which lessons can be learned and shared. Through listening and learning from people we meet along the way we hope to explore some of the experiences, needs and ideas of a wide range of people.
  • We hope to share stories of success in finding solutions to common difficulties. 
  • We will stay in tents as well as relying on the hospitality and welcome of people who are interested in the project and who wish to hear or tell stories of refuge. We will connect people with common interests in a continuous chain.
  • We will listen without judgement to the hopes and fears of the people we meet. We will record, collate and share spoken and written stories with the permission of the storytellers. We will keep a live blog and diary during the pilgrimage and are investigating options for documenting the project once complete.

Our aims are

  • to explore a range of opinions, both positive and negative, about migration, refugees and community integration;
  • to investigate the impact of certain views on the peace and security of refugees, hosts and communities;
  • to keep an open mind and use the information we gather to identify solutions for integrating refugees into British society.  

Why a Pilgrimage?

Pilgrimage is a form of religious and secular migration that has been a part of social engagement for centuries. We would like to explore the history of pilgrimage in the UK and ask how this tradition could inform the way we relate to travelling strangers today. Projects For All is not a religious organisation and does not discriminate on grounds of faith.


Who we are

Isabel Freer is a producer who’s worked on a number of films, documentaries and live events in the UK and America. Her most recent film “The Journey” premiered at the Venice Film Festival. She enjoys walking, but is new to long distance walks. This will be her first pilgrimage.

Christy Hawkins has taught secondary English, Drama and Creative Writing for 10 years in England, Australia and the Czech Republic. He has been an actor and director in amateur productions. He writes plays, journals and prose fiction. He is a devoted walker and has made two pilgrimages, one from London to Canterbury and one from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela.

Isabel and Christy are engaged.