Syrian refugees support County Durham community through lockdown

Ammar Said and Abdulsalam Alkhalid are both volunteering in County Durham during the lockdown. Credit: Durham Council

Two refugees who fled the war in Syria and settled in County Durham have spent the lockdown manufacturing scrubs and delivering food to vulnerable neighbours.

Ammar Said, 43, ran a clothing store in the central Syrian city of Homs before the war began in 2011.

A tailor by trade, Ammar is now sowing scrubs at home, after making contact with the charity 'North East Scrub Hub' through his council support worker.

"This is the least that I or any other refugee living in the UK would do to show our appreciation and to pay back a small portion of what has been offered to us here in the UK", Ammar said.

"We have been offered safety, sanctuary and dignity, so, as I said, standing with our community is the least we could do."

Ammar Said sews medical gowns for frontline NHS staff at his Durham home. Credit: Durham Council

Abdulsalam Alkhalid, 36, arrived in Durham in April 2019. He drove construction equipment in Syria and now works five hours per day, six or seven days per week, packing or delivering food to those in need.

Abdulsalam said: "I wanted to do voluntary work as I like to help people, and it helps me and my family feel part of the community.

"In the current situation, I feel it is our duty to help. I have my car and there are elderly people who need us to deliver the food to their doorsteps."

Cllr Angela Surtees, the council’s Cabinet member for social inclusion, said:

Durham Council's resettlement scheme was launched in 2016 and has helped more than 250 refugees make a home in the county.

The scheme, which has been held up as an example of national best practice, provides resettlement support to vulnerable refugees and is funded by the Home Office.

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