Refugee Cricket Project
The Refugee Cricket Project (the “RCP”) is a specialist project within the Children’s Section which runs weekly at a cricket centre and provides our clients with the opportunity to play cricket and also access advice and support in relation to immigration and welfare issues.
A short documentary about the RCP has recently been released by the Guardian:
The Refugee Council became aware a few years ago that lots of our clients, particularly those from Afghanistan, were passionate about cricket and arranged a few informal cricket activities as a simple way of bringing some pleasure to this often bewildered and despondent group. However we began to realise that playing cricket was a very effective way of improving the children’s English, building their confidence and introducing them to Britain and the British way of life. As the RCP became established it rapidly became obvious that, in addition to having the chance to develop their cricket skills and meet their friends in a safe environment, the children also wanted advice on both their asylum claims and on welfare issues. The Refugee Council, therefore, set up a weekly advice surgery at the Project that operates concurrently with the cricket practices.
In addition to year round cricket coaching, the RCP arranges fixtures against a range of opposition teams from the MCC downwards, provides assistance with playing in mainstream local clubs, arranges a tour outside London in the summer (made possible for the last two years by the generosity and hospitality of Cheltenham College) and delivers over 300 advice and advocacy sessions annually with follow up support. The RCP has proved to be a very effective forum for delivering advice and support, in part as a result of the regularity and continuity of the contact with staff and volunteers that the RCP enables.
Although the RCP was set up for under 18s we decided not to require participants to leave once they reached 18 as we feel (as they do) that the RCP has become a surrogate family for these young people, many of whom still have unresolved asylum claims despite the long time they have been in the country. For those who have succeeded in achieving settled status we try to assist them with the challenge of adulthood and independence, through helping them with access to further and higher education and training.
Many of the boys who attended our original cricket activities are still attending the RCP regularly and it is very rewarding to see the progress they have made in terms of their education and employment and the difference in their mental welfare as a result of being granted the right to remain in the UK. Sadly and painfully there are some empty places at our table as some of the children we have assisted have been deported and, if that happens, it is rare that we receive any news of them.
Click here for an account from the RCP earlier this summer.
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