Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation has partnered with Amnesty International UK to launch the Football Welcomes Community Projects to help create more welcoming communities for refugees and people seeking asylum across the UK.
Supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Amnesty will be working with the Boro and four other football club foundations and county FAs across the UK to set up local community alliances between refugee groups, their local clubs, community programmes, fans groups and others.
Jonny Howson attended the launch at the Foundation’s Herlingshaw Centre where he watched a variety of activities including football tennis, a small-sided game, a speed cage and target football.
Howson said: “It’s good to see the terrific work that the Foundation’s doing. From a personal point of view, it’s nice to come to these places to see the different things that they are doing, and giving back to the community and it shows that it’s bringing people together as well.
“As soon as I walked in here, you could sense the enjoyment. I spoke to a few of the lads and how much they appreciate it. It’s helping everyone out, which is a good thing, and bringing enjoyment to people’s faces as well.”
The Community Projects are a new addition to Amnesty’s Football Welcomes initiative, which celebrates the contribution refugees make to the beautiful game.
“We’re honoured to be working with Amnesty International again,” said Paul South, Lead Coach on the Foundation’s Football Welcomes programme. “We share common goals, share the same beliefs, ideals and principles.”
Naomi Westland, Amnesty International UK’s Football Welcomes Manager, said: “We’re delighted to have Middlesbrough Football Club involved in the Football Welcomes programme.
“The Community Project is an exciting new part of the programme and we’re looking forward to working with the club and fans over the next three years to ensure that refugees and people seeking asylum feel welcome in Middlesbrough.
“The club is at the heart of the community and has a unique ability to bring people together through a love of the beautiful game.
“Football can give people a sense of belonging, on and off the pitch, and for people fleeing war, conflict and persecution, it can really help them to settle into a new country and culture.
“There is a real need right now for people to come together and focus on the things we have in common.”