Over the summer, we welcomed a small group of researchers from the Universities for Nottingham, who were working on a project to understand the potential benefits of walking and writing together.  


The Pathways Project is part of a Nottingham-based initiative called Co(l)laboratory. It’s a pioneering eight-year, £5.1million project funded by Research England, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the Universities for Nottingham partnership. By recruiting ‘Citizen Scientists’ and supporting them to work with professional researchers and community organisations, the project aims to deliver meaningful change for the people of Nottinghamshire.

Leanne Moden (the Citizen Scientist) and Fahim Karimi (the Community Engagement Assistant) worked with researchers Dr Sarah Jackson (Nottingham Trent University), Professor Joanna McIntyre (University of Nottingham) and Jasmine Banton (Project Coordinator at Refugee Roots) to design, build and deliver a series of short walks in green spaces across Nottingham city for Refugee Roots participants. 

During the sessions, which took place after English lessons on Wednesday afternoons, everyone got a chance to walk, talk and write all about nature and the spaces around them, and the group spent lots of time listening to each other’s ideas. 

Over the course of five weeks, the group explored the Arboretum, the Forest Recreation Ground, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Elm Avenue & Corporation Oaks, and Wollaton Hall Deer Park. They wrote about nature, sounds, movement, belonging, and home, and produced some fantastic writing, both as individuals and as a group. 

Here’s an example of a group poem, made during week four of the workshops:




The word welcome looks like safety.

It sometimes sounds harsh, but it isn’t.

It feels like safety, feels like peace. 


Welcome looks like a big smile – 

You are valuable to someone. 

It smells, not like garlic, but like the best perfume.

It tastes like sweets, or some pe,

Tasted with body, not the tongue.


Welcome looks like a hug and happiness.

It sounds like the voices of bird and water.

It smells of cooked meat and tastes of sugar.

It feels like happiness. 


Welcome is good for calming my brain.

It smells of flowers.

Very sweet, like flying in the sky. 

In my arms, I embrace you, and you embrace me. 


Welcome smells good,

Sounds like “You are safe.” 

Looks like you are here with me. 


Welcome looks like the porcelain smile of a friend.

It sounds like screams of exclamation,

It smells like food with ten minutes left to cook,

It tastes like a cup of tea. 

Welcome feels like warmth. 


During the project, the researchers found some evidence that writing and walking workshops can help refugees and asylum-seekers living in temporary accommodation to make connections with their local landscape, and engage in new forms of creative exchange. 

When asked if they had enjoyed the project, the response from participants was overwhelmingly positive:

I really loved because we know ourselves better and find [our] own talent and have some skill to look to the world in different ways.

Many of the participants from Refugee Roots stated that they wanted to project to continue and were sad to hear it was coming to an end. 

However, this research work is hopefully the start of a much longer collaboration between Refugee Roots and the Universities for Nottingham, exploring how writing and walking can help refugees and asylum-seekers to connect with their local landscape, explore their creativity, and engage in activities that help to overcome barriers to inclusion too. 

Being together feels more beautiful than being alone.