Swindon Town FC honoured for supporting refugees

By Barrie Hudson - 9 May 2023

  • Yakob Adam Mohamed, 18, pictured holding the trophy with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson

    Yakob Adam Mohamed, 18, pictured holding the trophy with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson

Swindon Town Football Club has accepted the EFL Community Club of the Season Award at the House of Commons.

The club was honoured for its commitment to supporting refugees as part of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) Programme.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s UASC Programme Coordinator, Ali Nott, was invited to a large reception at the House of Commons by Swindon Town Football Club in recognition of the UASC programme’s weekly Refugee and Asylum Seekers football group at the Swindon Town Football Club’s Foundation ground. 

The UASC Programme is an initiative commissioned by Wiltshire Council and launched by the Trust in August 2019 in partnership with The Harbour Project in Swindon.

The programme works with children under 18 who have fled their country of origin without the care or protection of their parents, and are seeking asylum.

It aims to give the young people a sense of belonging, both geographically and emotionally. It also helps them overcome their trauma by providing them with the opportunity to have fun and make new friends, having lost so much of their childhood. 

This is achieved through ongoing support, the weekly football group and other events during school holidays, such as trips to the beach, Bath, Oxford and London, activities such as bowling, climbing and conservation tasks and an annual barcecue.

The Harbour Project is committed to helping make the football group a success, and offers further support to UASCs in areas such as understanding the immigration system, the rights and responsibilities of the UASC Programme, British laws, housing options, career guidance and language study.

Attendance at the weekly football group has been consistently high, with an average of 15 refugee attendees each week, even during bad weather and the holy month of Ramadan. The sessions involve a mix of training and games, with two matches held to date. 

Ali Nott travelled to the House of Commons reception with Yakob Adam Mohamed, an 18-year-old refugee who left his home in Sudan aged 14. It took Yakob three years to reach the UK, and he has since been attending regular events and activities under the Trust’s UASC Programme. He was one of the first participants of the football group in January 2022, attending almost every session since.

Ali Nott said: “Yakob is committed, enthusiastic and a great team player. After the trophy had been presented, Yakob was part of a 15-minute interview panel hosted by sports broadcaster Jules Breach. Yakob talked with great confidence and humility, with a supportive reception from the 300-strong audience. This success has been great validation for the UASC Programme and a day that Yakob and myself will remember forever.”

Shane Hewlett from Swindon Town FC Community Foundation said: “We love working with Ali Nott and her team from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. It was extremely special to receive this award recognising the great work and dedication from both our organisations.”



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