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Story added: 28th May 2021

Fresh Start offers football sessions and workshops at Carrow Park and the club

A new programme is using the power of Norwich City FC and football to help integrate and welcome refugees and asylum seekers into the local community.

Funded by the Premier League Fans Fund, and developed in association with local charity New Routes, ‘Fresh Start’ is aimed at refugees and asylum seekers who are new to Norwich.

For an hour each week, a free weekly football session led by Foundation coaches combines training drills with small-sided games for the participants.

Alongside this, six participants on the programme have also been chosen as Fresh Start ‘Ambassadors’.

They’ve learnt about the Community Sports Foundation and our work, and will be invited to Carrow Road for a tour and to meet staff from the charity and the Club. The ‘Ambassador’ experience will also include Foundation volunteer opportunities, to help develop skills and boost employment opportunities.

“The intention behind the Ambassadors programme is that our six chosen individuals will inspire and encourage other refugee and asylum seekers to access the wide benefits offered by the Community Sports Foundation,” said Toby Nickerson, the Foundation’s Community Development Manager. “These include our Premier League Kicks programme, which offers free sport and education workshop sessions to children and teenagers.”

Sessions have been running for three weeks, and 33 individuals have enjoyed the sessions so far.

Many of the attendees are Sudanese asylum seekers, who have fled conflict and a humanitarian crisis in their own country to make their new home here in Norwich.

New Routes works with and supports refugees, asylum seekers and isolated migrants, and promotes cross-cultural integration and community awareness in the city.

Patrick Heaton-Armstrong from the charity said:

“The Fresh Start and Fresh Start Ambassadors programmes have been a fantastic opportunity for New Routes’ participants to get involved with Norwich City FC, and for the football club and Foundation to strengthen its ties with the asylum-seeking community in Norwich. Many of the attendees have been proudly wearing their Canaries kit, and it really has made them feel welcome in their new home city!”

Toby Nickerson continues: “Community is at the heart of everything at Norwich City Football Club, and so we are delighted that the programme has seen such a great uptake so far. By using this programme as a first introduction to the football club and to the Foundation, we hope we can build a strong bond with refugees and asylum seekers in the region as they adjust to their new lives.”

The programme is initially set to run until summer, with the hope that it can be run as a full-time programme in the future.

"Many of the attendees have been proudly wearing their Canaries kit, and it really has made them feel welcome in their new home city!"

Patrick Heaton-Armstrong

New Routes

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