PROTESTORS and union groups will be hosting a demonstration and a concert aiming to spread their message that 'refugees are welcome' in Dorset.

They will march on Portland today, Saturday, September 16, to oppose the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port.

The march will begin at the Gateway Pillars at the Victoria Square Roundabout of Portland at 12.00pm.

Marchers oppose the barge and say it's 'cruel and inhumane'.

They are calling for an end to the Government’s hostile refugee policy and for safe passage for all refugees.

The demonstration will be followed by a free music festival on Chesil Beach at Chesil Cove from 12pm to 7pm.

'Let Music Unite' is hoping to build bridges between the local community and the refugees that were being housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge.

The event will be part of the Portland Fringe Festival, dedicated to celebrating creativity and the limestone Isle.

Lynne Hubbard, joint secretary of Stand Up To Racism Dorset, says: “The Legionella scandal shows that the barge is unsafe and firefighters have warned it is a danger to those on board. Refugees who were placed on the barge say it is ‘worse than a prison’.

"The only people to benefit are owners of the barge and of Portland Port – together they will receive millions of pounds to hold people on this dangerous vessel.

“We say that it’s time to stop scapegoating refugees – people who are victims of war and conflict.

"The Government wants to blame these vulnerable people in the hope of covering up its own responsibility for the country’s economic and social crises. This blame game has to stop."

Following the Portland march, Let Music Unite on Chesil Beach at Chiswell will celebrate community unity. All are welcome to attend.

A member of the Portland Global Friendship Group, spearheading the Let Music Unite initiative, said: "As a local resident, I wanted to create a positive event for the community on our beautiful island.

"It's been an incredibly divided community recently, which, as a local resident, has been difficult to observe. This event is about bringing some positivity back to the island and bringing people together."