World Refugee Day 2018: How The Foundation Has Helped Refugees Settle Into Newcastle Life
“I arrived in Newcastle from Syria 12 months ago. It was a really difficult decision to leave. I never imagined it would be football that would help us settle in our new home.”
– Hikmat Sulaiman
After making the difficult transition between Syria and the North East of England, Hikmat got involved with Newcastle United Foundation’s Premier League Works programme.
Premier League Works, delivered in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, supports young people aged 16 to 25 who are not in education, employment or training.
The programme has a strong focus on securing a positive job, training or volunteering positions for young people.
Thanks to his hard work, and the support of the Foundation’s employability staff, Hikmat began to adapt to life in Newcastle. His English improved, as did his ability to socialise. As a result he was able to take up opportunities to explore employment options.
Hikmat said: “The project has helped us meet lots of different people from the area and has given us a lot of help with future plans. The Foundation has also given us so many brilliant opportunities to experience British life. Our coaches, Dan and David, have been kind and understanding but also challenged us to improve and take chances.
“We have created CV’s and had some really interesting visits to Virgin Money and British Engines to learn about possible careers. We’ve been working hard on our English and we’re really looking forward to starting some work experience soon.”
Alongside developing his job prospects, Hikmat also got the chance to experience one of the more important aspects of British culture – football. Thanks to the FA, our PL Works participants were able to travel to Wembley to watch England play. They also visited the Emirates Stadium to meet young adults taking part in Arsenal’s PL Works programme.
Since then, Hikmat has taken every opportunity he can get, and has thoroughly settled into Newcastle life.
“At Christmas we teamed up with Middlesbrough FC Foundation and visited local hospitals to take presents to the patients – it felt nice to do something for other people. One really special moment was taking penalties at half time at St. James’ Park – being cheered by the fans was something we won’t forget. Newcastle has been so welcoming.”
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