What could a small village on Dartmoor do to help asylum seekers and refugees?
This question was first asked by Claire Ash Wheeler whilst talking with her friend, Julia, about her experience as an Expert Witness for asylum seekers from Iraq.
This question was also the starting point of a journey that led Claire and Roger Ash Wheeler to meet our manager, Rachael Bee, in September 2017 and to create the year after, the Chagford Holidays for Asylum Seekers and Refugees – now called Chagford Hospitality Network (CHN).
The objective was raising funds and awareness in order to create holidays in the Dartmoor village of Chagford. The holidays would be dedicated to the rest, cultural exchange and fun of destitute asylum seekers connected to BHN.
Different fundraising events took place to finance the project: first a ‘Tea and Cake’ event, and then, a successful concert from the band ‘Diving for Pearls’.
Photo: BHN and CHN during the first holidays in Chagford in 2018.
In July 2018, eleven people were ready to host our members in Chagford. Businesses gave freely and offered discounts and thirty people from the village prepared meals and cakes. These contributions from the local community were really heart-warming for BHN, Claire, Roger, the Diffeys and Skiltons, who now constitute the steering group.
During the holiday week, our members were able to take part in activities, such as, a guided walk on Dartmoor, volunteering at a local organic community farm, swimming in the village pool, playing different sports, riding horses and going to the seaside. Finally, Moveable Feast prepared a delicious Somali banquet for one hundred paying guests that was a very successful way to continue to raise awareness and funding.
These holidays were really appreciated by our members, one of them said: “I was stressed before I went; I came back refreshed and enjoyed the quieter, fresher environment”. Another member stated that this week was enjoyable because every day was different.
After this first Chagford Holiday, BHN was invited a second time for a week-end to participate in the popular event of apple pressing organised by Chagfarm. Once again, Moveable Feast provided a Somali cookery workshop for locals that was both a fundraiser and a cultural exchange.
For 2019, the collaboration of Chagford Holidays and BHN is continuing with new events taking place. Indeed, CHN started the Supporters Group of Chagford Holidays for Asylum Seekers and will invite our members in April for another week-end during which they will take on the local Dads and Lads football team!
In the course of the week-end, a Tea and Cakes fundraiser will take place as well as a car boot sale and a table top sale. These events create other opportunities for the local community to get involved.
More events will be set up during the year starting with a fundraising concert in May and another Summer holiday in July – lots to look forward to!
For more details and information about Chagford Holidays with CHN please contact:
Claire Ash Wheeler: firstname.lastname@example.org