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Over the past few months MCRactive have been working with the City Council at hotels near Manchester Airport helping to organise activities for Afghan refugees. We commissioned UK Sports Coaching to deliver multi-sports to the children at the hotel, with the simplest of activities proving to be the best received. The children were often seen playing with a stack of cones and a small sponge ball for hours, it was amazing to see.

Katie Thompson, a member of the MCRactive Neighbourhood Sports Team who was regularly working at the hotels noted how this showed “how much we really take for granted”. It was also discovered that some of the women staying in the hotel would go out late at night when it was dark outside, with the team later finding out this was because they were not allowed to be seen exercising or playing sports in front of men. Taking into account some cultural differences, there was a clear appetite for activity for the Afghan women, so we worked with Manchester FA’s Women’s Recreation Officer who helped deliver some ‘women only’ sessions at the hotel for the female refugees. 

Overall, the response to the activities was greatly received, with many of the young refugees allocated to local schools such as Newall Green in Wythenshawe. The team worked closely with Newall Green School to look at encouraging them to be part of the HAF provision over Easter to provide holiday activity to the Afghan children. The school will not only deliver activity, but English and Maths lessons too. It was also important to include the parents of the children where possible too, some of whom have favourable skills such as cooking to help prepare the hot food provision. Some of the male refugees at the hotel were also formerly translators for the army, and therefore have agreed to assist with communication during the holiday period. 

Katie went on to express how “it has been an honour to be part of the ongoing project, ensuring activity can be accessed by all, especially some of the most vulnerable in the city. When the refugees fled Afghanistan for a better life, many were and continue to be housed at 2 of Manchester Airport hotels. Initially the children and young people didn’t attend school – however now that they have been allocated schools to attend, it’s great news!”. 

On behalf of everyone at MCRactive, we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in helping the refugees, and for the work you have planned for the coming weeks and months. Your work will have a lasting impact on people who have been through unimaginable difficulties, undoubtedly effecting a real positive change both in the lives of the refugees in Manchester and for future generations. 

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