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Fresh Start helps people begin anew
17/08/17

Over the last ten months Fresh Start, a new project by Together for Change, has been befriending and providing practical support for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Coventry. Led by Cultural Links Worker, Matt Robinson, Fresh Start has established a number of exciting initiatives and has seen God work in some amazing ways.

Fresh Start’s Saturday morning football sessions successfully kicked off earlier this year. Around 40 men – about 15 locals from different churches and 25 refugees, migrants and asylum seekers – meet together every Saturday to play football and build relationships. Football is an international language and has proved to be a great way for the men to get to know each other. The group often goes for lunch together afterwards at Coventry Vineyard Church to deepen friendships. BBC Midlands Today reported on the football sessions and you can find their report here.

The Fresh Start Companionship project is also in full swing. This project pairs up volunteers with newly arrived individuals. Volunteers offer a listening ear, assistance with English, and a friend to walk alongside the new arrivals as they take their first steps in building a new life. 

Twice a week Matt and a few volunteers run Conversation Cafes in Coventry city centre. Currently around 12-15 refugees and asylum seekers attend each session in the Belgrade Theatre café. The group gathers together in the café then splits down into smaller groups to chat for a couple of hours. Each session will revolve around a different topic such as Coventry’s history, British values and education. These sessions do not only give participants the opportunity to practise their English in an informal setting but also bring people together. One of the participants, Hafizur comments that he “really likes coming to the conversation cafes. They have a relaxing atmosphere and it is good that they are close to the city centre.” Another participant, Abdulla says “practising conversation is very important. It is great to speak to lots of different people.”

Fresh Start are currently looking for more volunteers who are eager to get involved with any aspect of the project. There will be an information morning on Saturday 9th September from 10am – 12.30pm at St Michael’s House, Coventry, where those interested in volunteering can find out more about the projects. Do come along and find out more!

To find out more about Fresh Start see Matt’s blog— www.tfcfreshstart.wordpress.com

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