Local refugee children welcomed to community through sports summer club
UCLan and Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre team up to integrate youngsters
Refugee children building a new life in Preston are enjoying their summer holidays at a special summer club organised by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre (PSC).
As part of the four-week Sir Tom Finney Football and Multi-Skills Summer Camp at UCLan Sports Arena, the youngsters, who are from a variety of countries including Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria, have joined other local children to play together and learn about tolerance, respect and friendship.
The children, aged 5 - 12, are taking part in agility, balance, speed and team building exercises under the supervision of PSC coaches and UCLan volunteering students, who have been recruited through the University’s Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership (CVCL).
Young people who have also been referred to Children’s Services are also taking part in the Camp, alongside fee paying youngsters, which has received financial backing from the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw.
The idea behind the venture is to allow children from very different backgrounds to integrate, make new friends and promote health and fitness.
"It’s initiatives like this that bring communities together and tackle anti-social behaviour in a positive and engaging manner and is what my Community Action Fund is really all about."
Darryl McNicholl, Lead Coach from PSC and UCLan sports student, said: “We’ve brought more than 30 children from all walks of life together in a very safe and inclusive environment. They can be kids and enjoy themselves as well as breaking down barriers and prejudices at the same time.”
Mangoub Olbaken, 13, is originally from Sudan and is attending the Summer Camp with his younger brother Farris.
He said: “I’m really enjoying taking part in so many activities and making new friends with lots of different people.”
Clive Grunshaw visited UCLan Sports Arena to meet some of the young people taking part. He said: “It is a fantastic project that we’re very happy to support through my Community Action Fund. To see these children integrate and have fun is wonderful.
"It’s initiatives like this that bring communities together and tackle anti-social behaviour in a positive and engaging manner and is what my Community Action Fund is really all about, helping support projects across the county that help me deliver my priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.”
The UCLan CVCL is supporting ten student coaches for the initiative. Bob Walley, community leadership lecturer and positive environments project co-ordinator, has been helping to lead the project.
He said: “This is an incredible opportunity for our students to learn on the job. Volunteering alongside studying always makes a student stand out and, in this case, they’re also making a difference to these young people by acting as positive role models.”
The Summer Camp follows on from CVCL’s continued work with refugees and asylum seekers. This includes a peer mentoring and buddying project, in partnership with the Red Cross, involving students from both the Preston and Burnley Campuses where UCLan student volunteers help and support families struggling to integrate into the local area.
Another project has seen UCLan working in partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency to twice take students to the Greek island of Lesvos. First to run an arts project about leadership and identity with 96 unaccompanied minors, then to run CVCL's acclaimed Global Youth Solutions Leadership Training with 150 unaccompanied minors.
Image: Young people join Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, alongside representatives from the UCLan Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership and Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, for the Sir Tom Finney Football and Multi-Skills Summer Camp at UCLan Sports Arena.