From Syrian refugee to Cambridge business owner in three years

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

Three years ago Faraj Alnasser fled war torn Aleppo in Syria and took refuge with a Jewish family in Cambridge.

He had to learn to speak English but now he has turned his life around and is running his own food business in the city which first welcomed him into the UK.

ITV News Anglia first filmed Faraj in 2018, then he had just arrived from Syria and was taken in by the Goldhills family.

Faraj was taken in by the Goldhills family in 2018 Credit: ITV Anglia

They'd seen the devastation caused by the Syrian war and wanted to help. Even when he first arrived he found himself at home in the kitchen.

Now he has his own kitchen and is cooking the food he grew up with in Aleppo .

Faraj has just started his own vegan and vegetarian food company, Faraj's Kitchen, with the help of the Cambridge Jewish community.

Faraj is now running his own vegan and vegetarian food company Credit: ITV Anglia

During the three years since he arrived in Cambridge he has completed his GCSEs and won a scolarship to a top London cooking school.

When Covid hit he lost his job, so decided to set up his own business and has since cooked for hundreds of people.

Faraj's journey started when he was just 16.

His family were forced out from Aleppo, because of the war in Syria, and they managed to get to Egypt.

Faraj fled war torn Syria at the age of 16 Credit: ITV News

Faraj travelled on his own to Turkey, but with no right to settle he began a terrifying journey across Europe.

He travelled on an inflatable boat across to Greece, then on foot across Macedonia and Serbia.

In Hungary he was imprisoned for 10 days, where he says he was beaten and treated like an animal.

He was smuggled into Germany inside a car boot and then took a train to Paris.

He spent a month in a forest outside Dunkirk before stowing away on a refrigerated lorry heading to Britain.

But after being locked in for six hours he lost consciousness, when he woke up he was in England where a policeman told him he was safe.

Faraj in the kitchen in 2018 Credit: ITV Anglia

Faraj was placed with his family in Cambridge through the organisation Refugees at Home.

The charity connects refugees with host families until they're able to move on by themselves.

Faraj is now running his own vegan and vegetarian food company Credit: ITV Anglia

Faraj keeps regular contact with his family in Egypt, not least for cooking advice

Faraj hopes to eventually open his own restaurant and give back to a city and its people who've helped him on his way.