Football bringing refugee communities together

16th February 2022

The Sanctuary, a project run by the Charity the Gap Wales, is working with Newport Live’s Positive Futures initiative to run weekly football sessions for young refugees in the city.

Newport is home to about one third of Wales’s unaccompanied refugees, who can be vulnerable to exploitation from criminal gangs due to lack of language, and cultural understanding

Stephane Nzouekon, refugee support worker with the Sanctuary, said: “These sessions are good for the young people’s physical and mental health, but most importantly football brings them together as a community.

“When they are relaxed and enjoying the sport they open up to us and we have the opportunity to talk about the other issues that are happening their lives, such as looking for work or problems with accommodation. It is just one of the ways we are able to support these young people to live happier, healthier lives and become part of the wider community.”

Both projects are funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner as part of the Commissioner’s commitment to safeguarding and supporting vulnerable young people in Gwent.

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “These are some of the most vulnerable young people in our community, many of whom have escaped war-torn countries or been trafficked into the UK for exploitation by criminal gangs.

“By offering them opportunities to take part in sports and other activities, we are not only potentially preventing them becoming involved with crime, it is helping their physical and mental wellbeing, and to integrate with local residents, building a more cohesive community in the city.”