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Well-Wishers Gather Outside Barracks To Welcome Migrant ‘New Neighbours’

Local residents assembled at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, on Saturday.

Well-wishers gathered outside a Kent military barracks housing migrants, to greet their “new neighbours” on Saturday.

Local residents and well-wishers assembled outside Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, to welcome asylum seekers who arrived recently.

Migrant charity worker Bridget Chapman, of the Kent Refugee Action Network, told the PA news agency: “It’s a really fantastic, inspiring collection of local community groups and national refugee support groups.”

A record number of migrants have made the English Channel crossing in small boats this year.

Kent’s Napier Barracks and Penally Barracks in Pembrokeshire, Wales, have been made into accommodation for asylum seekers.

The two Ministry of Defence sites were offered as part of an "emergency response" to a shortage of sites to house migrants.

Around 400 people are expected to be housed at the Kent facility, more than at any other Home Office “initial accommodation site”.

Library picture of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent (Picture: PA).

Ms Chapman added: “There’s a narrative that has been put forward by a group of people saying that these fellow human beings aren’t wanted in Folkestone and we know that isn’t the case.”

In order to show the strength of positive feeling different groups decided to turn up with messages of solidarity for their “new neighbours”.

Ms Chapman assured people that social distancing rules would be followed to keep everyone safe.

There were reports counter protestors could also be in the area.

Speaking ahead of the event, Superintendent Amanda Tillotson, from Kent Police, said: “Residents will see a well-resourced and proportionate policing response in the area to minimise possible disruption to the wider community.

“All attendees are also reminded of their responsibility to adhere to the latest government guidance on COVID-19.

“We will continue to play our part in ensuring these regulations are followed by engaging with attendees, explaining their responsibilities and encouraging them to adhere to the advice.

“Should it be necessary, enforcement action will be taken as a last resort.”

The Home Office has previously apologised for the lack of consultation on plans to house migrants at Napier Barracks, saying it was "hugely unfortunate".

Cover image: Pro-migrant demonstrators outside Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, gathered in a show of support welcoming migrants to the area (Picture: PA).

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