This year’s Refugee Week is 19-25 June. In recognition of this, our next Community Hero is the amazing Eltayeb Hassan of the Southwark Refugees Community Forum.

Eltayeb’s experiences echo those of many others forced to flee their homes and establish new lives for themselves.  Fleeing from political violence in Sudan, Eltayeb arrived to the UK in 1999 with no English, no family, connections, job or friends. Now ‘expert by experience’ he uses his knowledge, skills & energy to support new arrivals in Southwark.

Like many new migrants, Eltayeb found life extremely hard when he arrived. He experienced a profound loss of identity and confidence and despite his two degrees (including Law), he took a job as a security guard.  From someone with aspirations and a future in his home country, Eltayeb says ‘I was reduced to someone lost and isolated, with no ambition….I didn’t even recognize myself’.

His life started to turn around after he taught himself English – by reading newspapers in his security guard hut and forcing himself to talk to people on park benches and in church congregations! Then having been offered an outreach officer job with the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers he started channeling his energies towards helping others. He strongly believes that his struggles (and how he overcame them) mean he is extremely well placed to support other new arrivals; important work which he does so well.  His work at Southwark Refugee Communities Forum  and his fantastic colleagues like his Chair (Vejdan Efravi) are what give him strength.

Eltayeb and the SRCF Team are organizing a celebration for Refugee Week on Saturday 1st July at 11am at St Giles Church, Camberwell where we will join them to celebrate everything that the migrant and refugee community adds to the richness and diversity of Southwark.


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