This guest post was written by one of our undergraduate students, Tim Spinks:
At the beginning of last semester, Aden ‘Garad’ Mohammed and I (both students in PIR) decided to set up a charity to assist refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds. We wanted to improve the support network available to displaced communities, whilst simultaneously breaking down the social barriers that exist between them. With Aden himself coming from a refugee background, we realised that many of the problems displaced peoples face in their day-to-day lives are often overlooked, and with a little drive and determination the support network available to them could be improved. The charity we created is called Action Interactive International and our mission statement is to “Bring dignity to the displaced and the disempowered through inclusivity, interaction and the inspiration of hope”.
Since forming the organisation, Aden and I have been in regular meetings with local community and charity figureheads, developing an extensive network and receiving lots of advice and support along the way. For our first event ‘Football 4 All’ which was held last month, we wanted to bring different migrant and host communities together through the medium of sports. We held a 5 a side football tournament and cultural event in Harehills, that was designed to promote unity in the community, showcase Sub-Saharan culture and allow people to show off their skills on the pitch!
Through our network, we were able to get teams from the Somali, Sudanese and Eritrean communities, whilst one of our volunteers called Darcy managed to get a team from the University of Leeds – it was an amazing mix of people. Some friends from the international society and I cooked huge amounts of vegetable Biryani, jollof rice, plantain and roasted jerk sweet potato and butternut squash; whilst Aden made lots of samosas. No one went hungry. We also had a sound system there that was playing East African and Swahili music throughout the tournament, with the Somalis teaching everyone their signature dance – the Dhaanto – in between games. Some of our friends from an NGO called ‘No Going Back’ organised a clothes giveaway for the event, whilst a publication called ‘Without Borders’ gave away free magazines containing lots of useful information to help migrants who have just arrived in Leeds. There was also a camera crew there capturing all the action.