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20th Jun 2024


The UN Refugee Agency reports how in the year to September 2023, more than 114 million individuals were forcibly displaced.  

That is the largest single-year increase ever recorded by the organisation. 

June 20th is World Refugee Day. This international day celebrates the courage and strength of those who have been forced to flee their homes and countries. With rising levels of forced displacement, the day is more important than ever.  

Bloomsbury Football is proud to provide free of charge Refugee and Asylum Seeker sessions for displaced young people as part of our Special Projects provision. It is a core tenet of our commitment to provide accessible, affordable and fun football sessions to all young people in London. 

These weekly sessions provide an engaging and culturally sensitive environment where children can improve their language skills, physical fitness and mental health. 

Perhaps most importantly, the sessions also offer a safe space for participants to combat isolation and loneliness by making new friends – a major issue that impacts a significant proportion of displaced people. 

Ava, not her real name, joined the programme after arriving in London from Iran. Initially, she found it difficult to make friends, but tells how that changed once she got on the pitch with Bloomsbury Football.  

“After the day I enter to this session, I find more friends and I could spend my free time on something that is special to me. Everything in Bloomsbury’s Football session is good, we can enjoy and play with the guys there. Playing football with them is the best thing!” 

Arif, not his real name, lived in Bangladesh before being forcibly displaced. He joined our Tuesday session in West London, where players are collected by their coaches from their accommodation, taken to their session and enjoy a meal together afterwards. 

“From the moment I joined, I was welcomed into a supportive and passionate community of players and coaches. Every moment spent with Bloomsbury Football leaves me with a sense of pride and excitement”. 

We are proud that our Refugee and Asylum Seeker sessions are supporting young people like Ava and Arif, and we will not stop here. We will continue to scale this programme to engage more displaced young people in our city through the power of football. Many players who still attend our Refugee and Asylum Seeker sessions have gone on to join our other football programmes, giving them further opportunities to build friendships and integrate into their community.  

Strategically, we are committed to supporting Refugees and Asylum Seekers as we grow as a charity. Further, we are determined to continue welcoming displaced young people into our community, with a view to aiding their social integration into their new home.  

Interested in learning more about our Special Projects provision? Watch Yaroslav, a Ukrainian refugee, tell his story on our Instagram, or see this Sky Sports News report from World Refugee Day 2022.