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Asylum-seeking family welcomed to Walker by Iranian-born Foundation employee breaking language barrier

A young family forced to flee their home country are settling into their new neighbourhood thanks to a Newcastle United Foundation coordinator going above and beyond to welcome them to the North East.

The Kakrash family left Iran in Western Asia to seek asylum in the UK to live peacefully and without persecution.

However, 35-year-old Jamal alongside his wife Sadat, 35, and two children Dyar, eight, and Sakar, three, could not speak English and struggled to integrate into their new home in Walker, Newcastle.

Staff at West Walker Primary School called on Newcastle United Foundation’s School Project Officer Shayan Gazerani, who has previously supported non-English speaking students at the school and others at Percy Main Primary.

Shayan himself moved to England from Iran in December 2002 when he was 28. Back then, Shayan spoke no English, but endeavoured to learn the language, studying endlessly and eventually securing a sport coaching science degree at Newcastle College.

Now a British citizen and with numerous football coaching badges and grassroots team management positions under his belt, Shayan began working as a Community Coach with the Foundation six years ago.

Since then, he has supported many children and families moving to the area, including the Kakrash family. West Walker Primary asked Shayan to first help the family register their little girl, Sakar, to apply for a placement at the school via the Government website.

With the application ongoing, Shayan then helped the family to install West Walker’s school app to ensure they received regular updates from classes and lessons during lockdown.

Shayan said: “It is always special to help people who are new to the region and to help them feel welcome and safe in their new home here.

“It can be very challenging and especially tough for children and young adults who can struggle to make friends in school or in their street if there is that added language barrier.”

He added: “For Jamal and his family, I have regular FaceTime calls with them and I can talk them through or explain things in Farsi – Iran’s first language – and help translate websites or online accounts that they’ll need into English.

“I make sure Jamal’s son Dyar communicates with his teacher through the school’s app that we installed for them and that his daughter’s school application is under way.

“West Walker can also ask me for any support they need with other Iranian families moving to the area. It is very important to me that that everyone feels happy and safe in a new community and I am very proud to be part of that.”

As a School Project Officer at the Foundation, his role sees him leading PE lessons across a number of schools in the North East, developing agility, balance and coordination, as well as the principles of team games.

Liam Atkin, Newcastle United Foundation Senior Primary Schools Coordinator, said: “Everyone at the Foundation is incredibly proud of the work we do and Shayan is the perfect example of just how much we care about the people we support.

“Shayan is truly going above and beyond to help the Kakrash family, and we hope they feel at home here in the North East and know they will always have the Foundation there to give them any guidance they need.”

For more information on Newcastle United Foundation’s School Programmes bringing the curriculum to life for pupils aged four to 18 using PE, PSHE, literacy and numeracy, email liam.atkin@nufc.co.uk


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