Families seeking sanctuary and young refugees are exploring new opportunities to boost their physical and mental wellbeing in the North East with support from Newcastle United Foundation this Refugee Week.
This week, newly arrived refugee families are being welcomed into their new home away from home by the Foundation with celebratory events at St. James’ Park and the charity’s home – NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society.
During a welcome event on Tuesday, families and young people were invited to experience NUCASTLE’s innovative STEM room, esports suite, sports hall and play spaces, with participants also exploring St. James’ Park during a stadium tour on the day.
To round off Refugee Week (June 19 – June 25), more than 30 people seeking asylum will join a six-a-side tournament on behalf of Newcastle United Foundation’s Active Through Football programme in a round robin competition alongside teams from Northumbria Police, Wallsend Boys’ Club, Stagecoach and more.
Workshops are also being hosted 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.
Shayan Gazerani, Project Coordinator – Employability for Refugees at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “This week's events hold great significance for our community as we come together to recognise and support Refugee Week.
“It is a time to celebrate the resilience, strength, and contributions of refugees who have sought safety and refuge. By acknowledging their journeys and embracing their experiences, we foster inclusivity and build a stronger, more compassionate society.”
He added: “Joining our sessions not only offers an opportunity for fun and physical activity, but also represents a powerful way to extend a warm welcome and support to refugees and their families.
“Together, we create an environment where everyone feels welcomed, supported, and empowered and use sport as a common language to unite us all.
“Whether you are interested in our free adult football sessions, children's activities, or family badminton at NUCASTLE, your participation sends a positive message of unity and acceptance.”
Last month, Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon visited recently arrived refugees, migrants and young people seeking sanctuary enjoying a football session on NUCASTLE’s spectacular rooftop pitch.
Ngenijepi is one young man who regularly attends the Welcome Through Football programme delivered by Newcastle United Foundation with support from the European Football for Development Network (EFDN).
Ngenijepi, a student from Namibia, said: “Sessions here help to keep ourselves fit and we really enjoy this place and coming here two times a week. I’m always here and never miss a session. I love football so every time I can play, I have to take that opportunity.
“It isn’t all about football for us though and I am being supported with my studies to work in health care, which is what I want to do. I’ve received help with job applications and finding work, as well as getting training. It has been a huge support for me.”