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Refugees Share The First Moment They Felt "Free"

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    Refugees' First 'Free' Moment in the UK

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    The first dictionary definition of freedom is "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants," something that, to a greater or lesser extent, most people have felt. The second is "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved," an impossible feeling to comprehend unless you have been.

    Ahead, refugees from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Somaliland are photographed in locations around London that carry this particular feeling for them. Interviewed by Pulitzer nominee Veronique Mistiaen and photographed by Caroline Irby, the series is a collaboration with Breaking Barriers, a charity that helps refugees in the UK find work suited to their skills and experience.

    There has always been a significant amount of prejudice in this country towards refugees. The exasperating "They come in here and steal our jobs" is practically a national idiom. And now more than ever, as the strategy for Brexit and its effect on British immigration law is decided, and with the camps across the Channel still waiting every day for some hope, from someone, it's a critical time to reflect on the positive impact refugees have had on our country.

    Entitled 'Freedom from Fear', the project profiles a handful of men and women who fled the countries they happened to be born in – because of war, persecution and no basic human rights – who now work in the UK as mental health nurses, teachers, lawyers (in training), accountants (in training) and in the energy services. It is a humanising project that breaks down the word 'refugee', and shows how people who have sought refuge in this country, have also made it their mission to give back, and offer support to others.

    ‘Freedom from Fear’ will be exhibited at The Proud Archivist gallery in East London for one week, from 12th July until 18th July.

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