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Footprints and football to mark Refugee Week in St Helens Borough

Article date - 11 June 2021

St Helens Borough Council is marking national Refugee Week (14-20 June) with a programme of inclusive events arranged by its dedicated Resettlement Service, celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary here.
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The week launches with a local tribute to the campaign’s theme for this year – ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’. Local leaders and Resettlement Service officers, asylum seekers and refugees living in the borough, together with the local charity Our Warm Welcome which supports them will gather at St Helens Town Hall to set the first of a series of painted footprints around the town centre, signifying the journeys resettled people have made.

Two friendly football matches will follow, with men’s and women’s teams assembled from the borough’s refugee community playing with and against local ward councillors, kindly hosted by local clubs.

A range of crafts, classes and reading sessions are being held at local children’s centres all week, while Café Laziz, the popular community café, is hosting events at The Hope Centre, teaching visitors how to make tabbouleh and through casual conversation learn about different cultures over cups of Arabic tea and coffee with locally settled refugees.

And local schools are getting involved too, with a variety of online dance and creative writing workshops.

On Thursday 17 June, you can also take part in an ongoing digital arts project called ‘Here’ led by St Helens Arts Service and the council’s Cultured programme. Artist Emmer Winder will explain the project and help the group to create some artwork for inclusion in the final exhibition in October.

All families who attend will receive a free bag of art materials to take home. To book a place for and your family please contact Evonne Bixter on 07712543592 or by email evonnebixter@sthelens.gov.uk.

Learn more about the project at www.sthelens.gov.uk/here.

Plus, make sure you visit the Library Service throughout the week for digital events and find recommendations of fiction and non-fiction books on and by asylum seekers and refugees.

And gain unique insight into the perspective of refugees living in St Helens Borough in a special podcast made with refugees and organised by Focus Employment Hub Ltd. The podcast can be accessed on YouTube by searching ‘Refugee Week in St Helens’, or visiting the channel ‘John Perry Imagine Focus’.

See the full schedule of events and how to get involved on Facebook at www.facebook.com/STHCCentres.

Haydock resident Hussien is an Iraqi refugee who was placed in St Helens Borough through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme in December 2017.

He said:

“My neighbour is an excellent man, with a beautiful and kind family. As soon as I arrived in St Helens, he helped me with many things like going to the supermarket or to the GP when my children are sick. He helped me to understand British culture and he has taught my wife and children as well.

“His family help us with many things just like an extended family member would. We love to share meals where we taste English food and their family would taste Iraqi food, we are always visiting each other, we have an excellent relationship and they have made us feel welcome.”

Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said:

“It’s a great source of pride for us that we’ve been able to provide those who come to our borough in the greatest need, often fleeing violence and conflict, with a safe home in inclusive and resilient communities in which they can make a valuable contribution.

“We hope during Refugee Week that you’ll help us celebrate these successes and the journeys these people have undertaken by getting involved in the week’s events, and go the extra mile to learn about the different cultures of our neighbours that make up the fabric of our communities.

“I’d like to thank our Resettlement Service for coordinating this great week, those who have resettled in our borough for their hard work and understanding throughout the process, our partners in Our Warm Welcome, Café Laziz and so many others for their support, Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron and Cllr Richard McCauley for their help arranging the football and our clubs for hosting. And finally I want to thank our residents for their neighbourly kindness and generosity towards resettled people – it makes a world of difference!”