A project in Liverpool and Greater Manchester is helping people get to know refugees and asylum seekers living in their area.
You can find the Open Arms project in Liverpool, Bolton, Rochdale, Leigh in Wigan and Oldham.
The project brings people together through shared interests and activities. These can include football and other sports, parent and baby groups, gardening, cookery, arts and crafts.
All the activities are free or low-cost. They are open to everyone.
Bringing communities together
Open Arms is aimed at people living in areas where large numbers of asylum seekers have been sent to live.
Asylum seekers cannot choose where they are sent to live while the government looks into their claim. People already living in these areas are not consulted, either.
Both groups must live in the same area but they can know very little about each other.
The asylum seekers who use British Red Cross services in these areas told us they felt lonely. They wanted to find ways to give back to their communities. They were eager to learn about British customs and traditions. They also wanted to improve their English language skills.
Long term residents of the areas we are working in told us they were keen to meet people from refugee and asylum backgrounds face-to-face and hear about their experiences.
We want to bring these groups together to show what they have in common and build friendships.
The overall aim of the project is to help long-term residents understand more about the asylum system and what people’s lives are like within it. Open Arms also aims to reduce prejudice towards people who are refugees and asylum seekers and build community cohesion in areas where many people seeking asylum are sent to live.
Working with the Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside, we invited applications for small grants towards regular community activities. These activities are open to anyone, where friendships can gradually grow.
Find out more
To find out more about the Open Arms campaign, including how to get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Arms is a pilot project that will run until 2019.