Shot in peoples’ homes, these intimate portraits and their accompanying captions show how refugees and their hosts in Britain have learned to live together – and how both have benefitted from the arrangement. From a Syrian teenager who found a new home in Epsom to a 72-year-old Eritrean who evaded life on the streets thanks to a Birmingham couple, the collection shows acts of compassion – but also the human face of a refugee crisis so often portrayed in negative stereotypes. These refugees have brought warmth and happiness to their new homes, say the hosts involved in the project. “Even after everything he has been through he is such a gentle soul and such a lovely, positive person,” says Shoshana of Faraj, a devout young Muslim forced to flee Aleppo and now living with her and her family in Cambridge.
In September of last year, the city of Berlin opened its doors to thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, who had fled their war-torn countries in a desperate search for a new life. Registration centres that were set up to deal with less than half a dozen applicants a month, were overwhelmed by hundreds of families every day. At 10pm, when the centres closed, buses arrived to take the un-registered refugees to emergency accommodation – a gym, or community hall perhaps. Once those were full, the migrants with little more than the clothes on their backs, were left out on the streets until the centre opened its doors again in the morning. It was these images of overcrowding, and these reports of crisis that inundated the news headlines. Less talked about were the stories of the families that took these refugees, strangers from another country who did not speak their language, into their homes. Documentary photographer Aubrey Wade and partner Sarah Bottcher, were two of these volunteers who temporarily hosted a pair of young Afghan men at their new flat.