Dozens of young people seeking sanctuary and refugees are exploring new opportunities to enjoy living, working and socialising in the North East with support from Newcastle United Foundation this Refugee Week.
For the past three months, 17 young people seeking asylum have been enjoying free weekly football training sessions at the Foundation’s Lemington Football Centre in Newcastle’s West End with additional mental health and team building workshops as part of the Welcome Through Football project.
And during Refugee Week from June 20 to June 26, more than 40 people seeking asylum will join a six-a-side tournament on the spectacular rooftop football pitch at NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society, in a round robin competition with fellow European Football for Development Network members, Everton in the Community, Sheffield United Community Foundation and Big Hearts Community Trust.
Workshops will also be hosted in the building by the Foundation’s NU Futures team, offering employability support for asylum seekers and refugees aged 16 to 24, with introductions to the North East labour market, upskilling exercises, and the opportunity to gain an Employability Award qualification.
Clement is one young man who has taken part in the 12-week Welcome Through Football programme delivered by Newcastle United Foundation with support from the European Football for Development Network (EFDN).
Clement, a 25-year-old from Ghana, said: “I have really enjoyed being part of the project with Newcastle United Foundation as it has really helped me be compassionate and build stronger social relationships with others.
“I have loved the football as it has given me something positive to look forward to every week and I’ve had the chance to attend my first ever Premier League match, which was amazing.”
Throughout the 2021/22 season, Newcastle United Foundation has engaged with people seeking sanctuary and refugees with nationalities from across the world who are all united by a passion for football.
Dan Hancock, Senior Employability Coordinator at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “It is important everyone feels welcome and part of our community and we’re able to do this by providing opportunities many of us take for granted – from having enough money to catch a bus into town to attend a job interview to enjoying a matchday at St. James’ Park.
“After being displaced from their home country, the young people we work with often arrive with next to nothing and through the power of football we can help them to feel safe, comfortable and happy in their new home.”
In March 2022, Newcastle United Foundation held its annual CEO Sleepout Newcastle fundraising event inviting North East entrepreneurs, business leaders and managing directors to exchange comfort and warmth to spend one night sleeping on the concrete stands of St. James’ Park to tackle homelessness and displacement in the region.
The Foundation will use donations to support employability projects accessed by vulnerable young people, adults, and refugees who may be facing homelessness or unemployment, recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, or dealing with mental health issues.
Bianca Robinson, CEO of CEO Sleepout, said: “I am always thrilled to see the North East leading the way, showing real compassion and unity when it comes to addressing homelessness and deprivation in all its forms.
“Newcastle has shown that it is, once again, the most giving city outside of London. Hats off to our generous Geordies for reaching a magnificent figure that will do so much good for those in need in our region.”
Alice Fisher, Corporate Fundraising Manager at Changing Lives, said: “Changing Lives would like to say a huge thank you to all the business leaders that joined us for the CEO Sleepout in March.
“Together, they have helped to raise funds for the vital services we provide here in the North East to tackle homelessness and help people to transition out of crisis and build positive and happy futures.”
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