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A letter from CAFRASS

Our community team recently worked with people from CAFRASS (Children and Families Refugee and Asylum Seeker Services) to provide a day that some of their charges might remember. Below is a letter sent to FC United from Paula Duffy, one of the members of staff at CAFRASS...

"We work in the Manchester area with children and young people who have arrived unaccompanied in Britain to apply for asylum. They are placed into our care and we work with them until they are 21 years old.

"A few of the workers either attend FC United matches themselves or have partners that do. It’s widely known that a giddy time is to be had following FC and we were aware that FC United have a project that allows children in care free entry to all home matches. As we worked with children in the care system we looked further into it.

"One of the social workers told us that her sons attend the matches and thoroughly enjoy the day, as does their dad. He works as a volunteer with the promotions group trying to promote FC to a wider audience. He put us in touch with Vinny Thompson who gave us a call in September 07. Once Vinny gets wind of a community project that’s it, there’s no going back.

"A few of the workers met up with Vinny and he suggested a training session at MANCAT with further projects to run in the future, such as banner making and getting them to come to the games.

"Our Department was very exited about this involvement as the young people are here alone living without parents, siblings and extended family. Many are coping with mental health problems due to isolation and traumatic events. We wanted to get them involved and give them something to look forward to at the weekend.

"We envisaged them coming to the home matches, getting a little gang together on the bus, learning the songs and so start to feel a sense of belonging to Manchester.

"Dozens of letters were sent out inviting them to the session. Many of the return phone calls to us were amusing as they thought they were being asked to play for FC United ,so were asking when the next home match was as they hadn’t played for a while. Once I explained that it was a training session they told me they would love to still come. Two lads persuaded their social workers to buy them new trainers"¦"¦"¦"¦.those lads will go far.

"On the afternoon of the training session we headed up to MANCAT to see who had turned up. We must admit that we were a bit worried Karl would be having a training session with one Leaving Care Worker, two Social Workers and a foster dad.

"We needn’t have worried, 6 young people were there before we were. They were all kitted up eagerly awaiting the session. Twenty- seven turned up for the training and three came to watch, one had a gammy knee so couldn’t play but had a keen interest in FC.

"Watching from the sidelines it was hard not to be moved by the enthusiasm of the lads. Most had not met before and were initially shy. We counted around 14 different languages spoken on that field that day. It’s amazing to watch lads asking in Pushto for the ball to be passed from a lad that only speaks Arabic.

"Karl soon had them training well and co- operating with each other. One young 12 year old from Nigeria kept mithering Karl to remember him as he played for a youth team back home.

"One moment stands out for me though; one of the lads Ali, turned up in a short sleeved t-shirt and was shivering. Karl noticed this and took of his sweatshirt and gave it to him. Ali played in goal proudly wearing his FC top with the initials KM.

"The feedback from the lads who attended has been brilliant; they keep asking when the next session will be. They will also be invited to come along to the game on the 8th December which they are really looking forward to. We really appreciated Karl coming to work with them, especially since FC had a home game that evening. We hope to continue the work with Vinny and FC United and hope our young people begin to feel it is their club too."

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First Posted ~ 12:17 Thu 29 Nov 2007
News ID ~ 1332
Last Updated ~ 12:55 Mon 21 May 2018