Approximately 200 people recently gathered outside the former military barracks which houses asylum seekers, near Folkestone, to counter the rising far-right activity against migrants.
Police did however, stop a dozen far-right protesters from targeting the event by encircling refugee supporters.
After the welcome meeting about 50 protesters brandishing St George’s and Union flags marched while chanting racist messages.
Bridget Chapman, from Kent Refugee Action Network, said: “The majority of people are supportive of migrants, but we don’t always hear their voice, we hear the voice of the very vocal minority”.
The area has recently seen a rise in violent incidents and it is believed that a small number of residents meet by the site each week-end to harass asylum seekers. There are groups of far-right vigilantes who claim to send back migrant boats.
Dozens of asylum seekers have been placed in quarantine in one of the redbrick blocks after one tested positive for coronavirus. This came after repeated warnings were given over cramped and unsanitary conditions at the site.
Migrant charity ‘Samphire’ worker Kay Marsh believes that the deteriorating economy is fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment. “The government has managed to convince populations that there is a foreign enemy: ‘you’ve got no job, you’ve got no money’ that’s because of foreigners. And unfortunately people believe this because they need someone to blame.
Inside the barracks, a group of men waved back at the crowd, clapping and shouting “Thank you”.
The migrants have been demonised and dehumanised on the internet by far-right groups. They are treated as if they are just one. Some people refer to them as if they are animals when they are human beings and each of them has their own storey.
The charity Care for Calais, which is based in Northern France, tweeted praise for the supporters. “We are so grateful to everyone who attended the welcome event at Folkestone to lift the spirits of the refugees in the barracks and show them that Britain cares.
“Together we made sure hundreds of people there know they are welcome in this country”
A 26 year old woman who herself came to the UK as a refugee from Syria was at the event and said that the Folkestone community are very friendly and welcoming. “When I came here I felt that everyone wanted you to be part of this community”.