An artwork celebrating Brighton’s tradition of openness and diversity will be displayed in Queens Road this week.
The Brighton Welcome Blanket – on display in the window of Community Base in Queens Road from 2nd to 9th October – has been created by local “yarn activist” Dani Ahrens, along with over 30 other people who contributed textile squares. The aim of the piece is to provoke discussion and raise funds to support refugees in the city, many of whom are homeless and destitute.
The blanket incorporates a verse which is inscribed on one of the Patcham Pylons at the entrance to the city:
Hail Guest. We ask not what thou art
If friend, we greet thee, hand & heart
If stranger, such no longer be
If foe, our love shall conquer thee
For many residents of Brighton & Hove, this sentiment rings true – the city has always been famous for its open and accepting character. However, according to local charity Thousand 4 £1000, dozens of refugees and migrants in the city are trapped by legal and bureaucratic systems which mean they cannot prove their right to stay in the UK but are also unable to leave.
For some, their country of origin has been declared officially unsafe and they cannot be deported there. For others, their travel documents are not accepted by the country the UK government says they must go to. It’s a harsh welcome for people who have often been forced to leave their homes due to war and persecution.
Thousand 4 £1000 aims to provide a warmer welcome for people in this situation, by raising funds to provide safe and stable homes, from which they can be supported to resolve their immigration cases. The charity is hoping that the Welcome Blanket will attract hundreds of new supporters to their cause. People are invited to sponsor a square of the blanket by donating £10 or giving £1 a month to the group, before October 23rd.
The Welcome Blanket can also be seen at the Black History Month Family Day at Brighton Dome on October 15th.
For full details of the project and how to donate, visit www.rebelyarns.com/welcome-blanket