Poem telling stories of asylum seekers in Margate to be projected on town building

The town has a history of welcoming refugees such as these children of the Basque country in 1937 image via Carmen Kilner

A new poetry project has given a voice to asylum seekers living in Margate.

Undertow secured funding from Artcry to work with 35 young men who live locally, and in a workshop at Marine Studios they spoke about their experiences. They told of being forced from their homes by war and violence, spoke of Margate as a safe place, and shared their hopes for the future.

Poet Dr Kat Lewis has written a poem titled Statement of Asylum: Remix using their words. It will be projected onto a prominent Margate building this Friday 21st June, at sunset – 9.30pm. Viewers should gather on Margate Steps for the best view.

Margate has a history of welcoming refugees. Rowden Hall on Lewis Crescent was just one of a number of local hostels that took in Jewish children sent by their parents to Britain under the Kindertransport project in the 1930s.

Cypriots came to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, many seeking to escape the political situation in Cyprus, founding the Greek Orthodox Church here in 1964. Many stayed as refugees after the Turkish invasion and occupation in 1974. Their celebration of the Blessings of the Seas has become a popular local event.

In the 1990s, people fleeing the Kosovan war took refuge in Margate, staying alongside people who had been forced out of Afghanistan by the Taliban. Their story was told in Hannah and Hanna, a play by John Retallack, and inspired the film Margate Exodus, best remembered for the burning of Anthony Gormley’s giant Waste Man on the Dreamland site in 2006.

Councillor Aram Rawf, well known for his work with local charities, fled Iraq after being tortured by Islamic extremists attempting to recruit him as a suicide bomber in 1999. He was placed in temporary accommodation in Margate, where he learned to speak English, leading to a job as a translator at the Port of Dover in 2002. He was elected as a local councillor in 2019.

Statement of Asylum: Remix was created by Undertow, in response to the recent story about refugees living in Margate being removed to the Bibby Stockholm prison barge. It was supported by Artcry, an organisation that funds and supports artists to create bold political work, with funding given in seven days to enable fast action.

Alongside the projection, a series of prints are being made, which will be exhibited locally, with copies given to local archives to ensure the young men’s voices are preserved.

For more information visit http://www.withtheundertow.com/

Margate’s role in offering sanctuary to child refugees of the Basque country


  1. I do find this supposed equivalence between Basque children – or for that matter the Czech Jewish children saved by the late Sir Nicholas Winton depicted in the film “One Day”, or those on the Kinder Transport – unfathomable. How can supposedly educated adults not see the ridiculousness? Let alone project their stories in one of the poorest parliamentary constituencies in the country? Why aren’t they doing what men do – Mandela, Biko, etc? The only men who run are the later to be vicious ones like Lenin & Khomeini. Where are the women and the girls, the truly vulnerable?…… We truly are living in the Topsy Turvy. Time to call a halt.

  2. Whatever happened to beauty contests, candy floss and donkey rides? Much better than this depressing rubbish!

  3. This is just more propaganda to get us ready for the immigration rush that is going to happen when Labour take power. The levels of illegals entering our country under the Tories are nothing compared to what is going to happen when Labour take power. Anyone who thinks that Labour are going to somehow stop the illegal migration is a fool. The Labour Party and their left wing lawyers have done everything they can to keep the illegal immigrants in our country and stop them being deported.
    If the Labour Party has done everything in its power to halt the removal of illegal immigrants when they are the opposition why would they start deporting them when they are in power. The sheep have had the wool pulled over their eyes and the Wolf really is at our door.

  4. I found an automated Haiku creator online, so I wonder if I can get this poem projected onto a prominent Margate building this Friday:

    Wretched election
    A young, hairy migrant stabs
    betrayed by the dole

  5. As someone who survived the 2nd world war, although my older sister Beryl didn’t, and my mum and I became refugees after German NAZI’s bombed our road in Bromley, I can only hope you people who criticise the UK’s help for people who come here similarly, never have to experience the trauma that they have endured! What is the matter with you people that you want to bully some of the most hurt, and vulnerable people in our community? Do you think for one minute asylum seekers, and refugees want to be here? No they don’t, they would sooner be living peacefully in their own countries, speaking their own languages, and not being bombed, shelled by heavy artillery, and tanks, as they are in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force. These people in Gaza are helpless, living in unbelievable squalor, and filth, in tents made from blankets in all weathers, and half starved. There is one UK Charity that is managing to care for women, and girls and that’s Action Aid who will accept donations over the phone on: 01460 238000. Now all you bigots out there, have some compassion, and stop bullying these unfortunate people.

    • they would sooner be living peacefully in their own countries, speaking their own languages, and not being bombed, shelled by heavy artillery, and tanks.

      Given most of the small boat crossings involve Albanian nationals, this is where this argument wears thin. Not much in the way of wars, bombings and heavy artillery around Albania unless I’ve missed something.

      • Your wrong again Thanetian Blind, the UK has an agreement with Albania to send anyone from that country back, unlike any other country! This is the misconception wrongly held by those opposed to asylum seekers, and refugees. How can an asylum seeker prove who they are? They won’t have ID cards, and even if they do any country they fleeing from would be too dangerous to return to! In other cases countries refuse to take people who can’t prove they are one of their nationals! I knew of an Indian man who had been working as a chef in this country for 20 years, but was apprehended, and kept in jail for 6 years because he couldn’t prove he was Indian! His employer was desperate to have him working for them, and I knew of other cases, when I was a member of the Dover Detainee Visitors Group!

    • I have compassion for real refugees but definitely not the economic migrants that are flooding our shores illegally everyday increasing the burden on our already overstretched resources. The illegal migrants have travelled through Italy, France, Germany and Spain to get here, are those countries war zones ?
      Have you taken in any of these so called refugees? I seriously doubt it. Time to put your money where your mouth is and let one stay at your home at your expense.
      Last time I checked, Albania, Pakistan, India , Turkey, Vietnam etc aren’t war zones. These people are economic migrants and nothing else. They need to be deported not celebrated.

      • Well, “Comcerned” your ignorance is noted, how would an illegal immigrant say be put on a plane and be sent to Pakistan? They wouldn’t get through the UK border controls for a start, and if they did they wouldn’t be allowed into Pakistan by the Pakistan border controls! Its not so simple as simple people seem to think it is, is it?

        However, if we re-joined the EU then anyone entering an EU country to get to the UK, could be returned there, but that was when we were a member! This can’t happen now since we left the EU, and the people smugglers know it, which is the biggest pull factor for boat people! Like the UK, it is not illegal to put an inflatable boat into the sea in France, so how would you suggest this is stopped in France?

  6. I can’t believe that my last post was Censored for telling the truth ?
    A genuine asylum seeker coming from a war torn county would not throw away documents that identify them and their nationality. What a sad world we live in when the so called free press oppress the truth because it doesn’t suit their political agenda, so much for an unbiased press.

    • So OK “Concerned” just how would someone escaping say Iran get a passport? The minute they applied they would probably be thrown in jail for wanting to leave the Islamic Republic. Or say Afghanistan? At the moment the man who used to tend the gardens in the British embassy is being hunted down by the Taliban! There are any amount of countries run by despotic tyrants, that will jail, or kill anyone trying to escape, so how will they apply for a passport? Oh, and by the way, they are not “flooding” our country, the majority, over 80% I believe are granted leave to remain whilst their asylum seeker status is verified and who go on to be legitimate Refugees!

  7. Between 400-900 a day isn’t sustainable and the majority of them are from Countries that are safe, lots of them are now also coming from Germany, France and Italy because their refugee status has been revoked and they are going to be deported because they have been found to have come from safe countries and have been deemed illegal and economic migrants.

    People sneaking into a country and throwing away anything that can identify them are breaking the law, there can be no debate, they are concealing their identities to fraudulently claim asylum.

    You are delusional if you honestly believe that the majority flooding our shores are genuine asylum seekers and if you genuinely believes they don’t throw away their ID then there is no hope for you at all.

    The UK has one of the smallest land masses in Europe but per square mile one of the highest population rates, we can’t produce enough food to feed our own people and are forced to import basic necessities and the south of England endures hosepipe bans in summer because we don’t have enough water. We cannot sustain the surge of migrants that left wingers such as your self are advocating .

    The UK has become so soft with migration that convicted sex offenders who have had their asylum claims rejected are not deported because their human rights trips the vivo of their crimes. That might be OK with you the majority are sick of being taken for fools

    • You are painfully ill informed, and ignorant so called “Concerned” its people like you who will be attracted to snake oil salesmen like Farage, who will gleefully snap up your vote for his own vainglorious gains.

  8. Dumpton, how many migrants do you have staying at your home ? It’s a simple question but you seem unwilling to answer it. I guarantee you have got a spare room but like all virtue signallers you are quick to pontificate but disappear when it costs you financially.
    You stop the boats by pushing them back. It worked for Australia and it would work here. Your let them all in ideology is foolish at best and will cost this country in the long run.
    By rejoining the EU you have to sign up to accept more migrants from front line countries such as Italy and Greece so you’re completely wrong once again.
    When our country is inundated and financially crippled by your let them all in policies I really hope you are around to see how your naivety will have jeopardised the financial security of our own younger generations who will be paying financially for these illegal migrants for years to come.

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