Weekly specialist football sessions for young refugees are to be delivered by Oxford United in the Community, Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource thanks to a new partnership.
The three charities will work with up to 25 refugees and migrants each week by delivering football-based activities that focus on the development of valuable life skills including teamwork and communication.
The launch coincides with Refugee Week, which this year follows the theme ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ and provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of refugees and show solidarity.
Sessions are funded via Comic Relief’s ‘Thriving, Not Just Surviving’ initiative and will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7pm until 8pm at St Gregory the Great School in Cowley.
People eligible to attend must complete a registration form and will be referred directly by Asylum Welcome or Refugee Resource.
Colin Williams, Youth Services Coordinator at Oxford United in the Community, said the sessions will be fun, inclusive and suitable for people of all football abilities.
“Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource do fantastic work in supporting refugees living in Oxfordshire make sensible decisions to lead a safe and enjoyable new life,” said Colin.
“We are pleased to launch our new weekly specialist football sessions which will help make a positive impact on refugees now living locally.
“The evenings will provide people with an enjoyable opportunity to play football while benefitting from the specialist therapeutic elements that will be integrated into the sessions. We look forward to welcoming everyone very soon.”
Latest government statistics show there was a 17 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of people the UK offered protection to in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave in the year ending March 2020.
Last year, more than 150 Asylum Welcome volunteers gave up 15,000 hours of their time to help asylum seekers, refugees and detainees living in Oxfordshire feel welcome, respected and understood as members of the community.
Chris Lowes, Head of Oxford United in the Community, added: “Making a positive impact on communities in Oxfordshire sits at the heart of our core values at Oxford United in the Community.
“Many of our values are shared by Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource, which is what made our partnership a natural fit. We look forward to working with the charities and helping them in their vision to tackle suffering and isolation.”
Lucy Nichol, Services Development and Delivery Manager at Refugee Resource, said: “Refugee Resource is very excited to partner with Oxford United in the Community and Asylum Welcome to run this multi-ethnic and multi-cultural specialist football group.
“After months of isolation, and being stuck indoors, it is wonderful to see these young men out in the community, playing the game they love, getting fit and making new friends who have come from all around the world.”
Based in Cowley, Asylum Welcome is celebrating its 25th year of supporting refugees living in Oxfordshire. The charity works with unaccompanied children arriving in Oxfordshire to provide advice and practical support.
Additional information about the charity can be viewed by visiting their website here.
Refugee Resource provides psychological, social and practical support for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants to help them heal from trauma and build new lives as part of Oxfordshire’s diverse community.
Oxford United in the Community helps inspire people to live happier and healthier lives in better connected communities using the power of football. Last year it engaged with over 2,500 people in Oxfordshire.
For further information, you can visit the charity’s new website: Oxford United in the Community | Charity, Programmes, Courses (ouitc.org).