A coaching session in Saint Stephen is in full swing
Submitted by Communications Officer for MP Daisy Cooper and St Albans Liberal Democrats
An initiative led by Liberal Democrat councilors in Saint Stephen, St Albans, Hertfordshire has seen asylum seekers from the area take part in weekly football sessions with a coach.
Currently, there are more than 150 asylum seekers – including families – in the neighborhood waiting to be processed, all of whom live under threat of deportation to Rwanda.
Councilors Ajanta Hilton, Vlad Jirasek and Giles Fry have also liaised with various volunteer groups that also provide activities and community engagement opportunities for asylum seekers. Conversational English classes held at local churches are run by STaR (St Albans Refugees), while bikes and cycling lessons have also been made available.
Cllr Ajanta Hilton, said: “It was great getting to know these new members of our community.
“We learned that most are skilled workers from various countries – including Eritrea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, El Salvador – but all come from absolutely desperate situations.
“We have a few families here, but many are men who came alone – that’s because the roads from these countries are dangerous and full of pitfalls. It’s just not safe to bring families, especially those with young children.
Cllr Giles Fry, said: “The UK hosts a very, very small percentage of refugees compared to other countries. Often they come here because they speak some English, have a family member or friend here, and thought they would be welcome to seek refuge.
“It is heartbreaking that people have to make perilous journeys on dangerous roads to escape danger and persecution in their country.
“We need to see more effort to create safe passages for asylum seekers, and more coordination with the French border – not a heartless billion-pound scheme to send refugees and asylum seekers in Rwanda. But in the meantime, we are doing our best to help asylum seekers in our region feel welcome and included in our community.