Hanging tough : free climbing sessions for asylum seekers and refugees

Mar 27, 2024 | News

The Climbing Hangar, Liverpool, has a bouldering wall that Waleed (pictured) climbs with his eyes fixed on the goal.

Waleed, a Sudanese refugee, was among the first refugees to participate in Refugees Rock.

It’s easy for us to imagine the thoughts that are going through his mind. It’s easy to imagine what might be going through his mind.

“That feeling you get when someone reaches the top for the very first time, and they look down at you. They’re beaming with pride and smiling. Everyone is cheering. Emma Leaper said that the meaning of climbing is much more than what it is. Leaper is the national coordinator for the Action Asylum Initiative, which runs Refugees Rock along with The British Red Cross and Climbing Hangar.

“It shows the resilience of people we work with, their journeys and the fact they’ve overcome adversity to get here.”

Refugees Rock will celebrate its third anniversary next month. The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool began with a few nervous newbies. Now, hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees are hosted at 14 centres throughout the UK.


It’s a great feeling when you see someone reach the top and look down at you. It is more than just climbing.

The camaraderie of the group is a major attraction. Local climbers were recruited to be ‘boulder buddy’ volunteers in a show solidarity. They will show asylum seekers the ropes and extend a warm welcome.

Leaper said, “It is just wonderful.” “You leave behind your problems. You don’t think about your asylum case or the trauma of being separated from your family. Instead, you focus on the problem in front you.

“But I notice the biggest difference in people’s confidence. Up on that wall, it’s like they are finding themselves again.”

Image: The Climbing Hangar

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