On Monday 20th November, Surrey FA welcomed over 100 guests and players to Meadowbank Football Ground to re-launch the Unite Through Football: Refugees project for the 2023/24 season.
The project was initially launched in September 2022 in collaboration with leading accommodation provider SBHL and Surrey Police to support refugees and asylum seekers in temporary accommodation. The ground-breaking programme provides a much-needed opportunity for young men and women across the South East to play football and connect with local communities while positively supporting their mental health and wellbeing.
After a successful first year, the project enters its second season as part of an expanded partnership with SBHL, and a nomination for The FA’s County Recognition Awards within the ‘Equality, Diversity & Inclusion’ category.
Speaking on the day, Surrey FA Chief Executive Officer, Sally Lockyer, said:
“We have seen a growing population of refugees within the South East, and we want to create opportunities for them to play football, boost their mental health, and connect with the local community. Following a successful first season, we’re delighted that with the sponsorship support of SBHL, we can continue to create opportunities for our refugee community to participate in sporting activities. Not only does it help them to build positive relationships within their local community, but it also provides structure, support and social opportunities, which are hugely important for people who have been displaced, often in very traumatic circumstances.”
Owais Khan, Head of Welfare Services at SBHL, was also in attendance and added:
“SBHL is delighted to be supporting this incredible project. All our people at SBHL have a passion for providing the best service possible and going beyond where we can. I would like to thank the Surrey FA for all they have done in delivering this ambitious project, and we look forward to seeing the results of these efforts in 2024 and beyond.”
The project was initially developed through FA and Sport England funding, and has continued to be recognised on a national level. FA Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Anwar Uddin MBE, also presented and commented:
“It is wonderful to witness the sustained success of the project, enabling it to offer football opportunities to the Refugee Community for a second consecutive season. These sessions play a crucial role in fostering integration between the participants and the wider community, whilst providing activities that positively impact their mental and physical wellbeing.”
If you work with refugees and would like to find out more about Unite Through Football, or are looking to get involved in grassroots football in Surrey, please get in touch with Surrey FA directly through the contact information below.
For further information, please contact:
Eve Roberts, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager. Eve.Roberts@SurreyFA.com
Rob Bryant, Senior Football Development Officer. Rob.Bryant@SurreyFA.com