Sheffield United Community Foundation is joining football clubs across the country this month (April) to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum, as part of Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes campaign.
Now in its fifth year, Football Welcomes celebrates the contribution players from a refugee background make to the game, and highlights the role football can play in bringing people together and creating more welcoming communities for refugees.
Football Welcomes this year coincides with the return of grassroots sport as lockdown rules ease, which provides a much-needed opportunity for people to reconnect with each other and their communities and to improve mental and physical health.
To mark the month, which is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Sheffield United Community Foundation is launching a programme to deliver football based social inclusion directed at reaching and working with young refugees from the ages of 7 through to 25 years old.
Katie Glossop, Sheffield United Community Foundation’s Participation and Inclusion Manager, said: “Football is a universal language and has the ability to bring people together from all different cultures and backgrounds. Our programme will deliver safe, inclusive and fun football activities for young refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield, providing opportunities to play football, develop personal skills and get involved in volunteering.”
Sheffield United Community Foundation is one of many clubs from across the Premier League, English Football League, FA Women’s Super League, Championship and National League, Cymru North and South, and grassroots teams that have signed up to take part in Football Welcomes.
Some will organise a training session, a match or Soccercise classes for refugees, some will incorporate learning about refugee rights into their work in schools, while others will have first team players warming up in Football Welcomes t-shirts and help to raise awareness online.
Naomi Westland, Movement Building Manager at Amnesty International UK, said:
“With the long-awaited return of outdoor activities, we are excited to see the commitment from the footballing community to come together and welcome refugees.
“Clubs like Sheffield United Community Foundation are at the heart of their communities and football can be powerful force for good, bringing people together and a providing a sense of purpose and belonging. For those who’ve fled conflict and persecution and had to leave everything behind, this is incredibly important.
“It’s heartening to see football clubs across the country doing great work in their communities to show there is more that unites us than divides us.”