Helping refugees to settle and get healthy in county

Health trainers at Northumbria Healthcare give advice on healthy eating to Syrian families in Cramlington.
Health trainers at Northumbria Healthcare give advice on healthy eating to Syrian families in Cramlington.

Syrian refugees are receiving a helping hand to start a healthy life in Northumberland.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is bringing together more than 50 refugee families from the war-torn country through its community education programme to help people be healthy and feel part of the community.

Arij Alnfawi and Safwan Omar Agha and their four children were one of the first families to arrive in November 2016, after fleeing Syria.

Safwan, who volunteers as a role model to other families as part of the programme, said: “I came to Northumberland because my home wasn’t settled due to the war in Syria.

“Life was very difficult due to the bombing and fighting and I was very scared for my family’s safety.

“The people here have been very welcoming towards us. We used to hate our life, but now it is so much different and we want to help others to feel welcome in their new home.”

The trust’s Community Culture Northumberland education programme, which receives funding from the Big Lottery Fund, also supports black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

It involves developing local networks designed by and for refugee families, BAME and LGBT members of the community to help address issues like feeling isolated and raise awareness of the range of NHS and local services available.