As Hull becomes one of the latest cities to be declared a City of Sanctuary, Mosab Muhammed, a 28-year old refugee from Sudan describes how Hull and charities like the Refugee Council welcomed him with open arms
“When I thought about England when I was a child growing up in Sudan, the first and only thing I would think about was football. And when I say football, I mean Manchester City. I am still a big fan. Manchester City is the best football team in the world.
“Now football is just one of many things I think about when I think of England.
“England is the country that gave a home to me and my family when we really needed one. It’s the country that gave me my degree.
“I come from Darfur, western Sudan, and me, my parents and brother had to flee because of the war. None of us spoke any English and we were nervous about starting a life here. But we had no choice but to leave.
“We came to live in Hull and it’s where we still live now. I don’t know where we would be if it hadn’t been for the people we met in this great city, who made us feel so at home.
“I also don’t know where I would have been without the Refugee Council. The charity helped me access the benefits I needed and encouraged me to go to college. Other organisations told me that I couldn’t try and get an education until I had perfect English, but the Refugee Council told me that I didn’t have to wait and that colleges would support me with learning the language. They were right.
“I had the most wonderful experience at college. I was the only non-English person in my class and everyone was very supportive of that. After a few years I was able to complete a Higher Education Diploma and then I went on to get a degree in Engineering from London South Bank University. Not bad for someone who just a few years earlier didn’t know a word of English.
“Now I focus on giving back what I can to the country that has given me so much. I have volunteered with the Refugee Council as an interpreter, helping people who only speak Arabic to get by in England. I dream about supporting people who feel how I did when I first came to Hull not so long ago – scared about what the future may hold in a foreign land, many miles from home but at the same time, determined to build a new life.”
To find out more about the support offered by the Refugee Council, go to www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/what_we_do