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Afghan refugees welcomed with free haircuts and English lessons

From free haircuts to confidence-building activities, Hammersmith & Fulham Council is ensuring that its new Afghan arrivals are finding their way in daily life across the borough. But we couldn’t be doing it without the help and support of local residents, charities and businesses.

Upon arrival from Afghanistan, two barbers at Zazou Cuts in Fulham’s Lillie Road went into action and provided more than 50 free haircuts in three days to every Afghan man and boy staying in temporary accommodation in H&F.

Fulham resident Ibrahim Ben-Aali, 46, and his colleague Yazied, donated their time and skills to provide the free haircuts. Ibrahim, who moved to the UK in the 1990s from Morocco, says he wanted to give back to the H&F community that had welcomed him when he first moved here.

“I had been thinking for a while about how much I wanted to give back to my community,” he said. “When I heard about the refugees, I knew I could help. It was amazing to see them all leaving the room with smiles.

“It’s only when you’re safe and well that you care how you look and helping them in that next stage of their journey has been really special.”

The refugees were grateful as many had been struggling with damaged hair from the emotional stress and strain of their departure from their home country.

Building confidence

The Lyric theatre and Hammersmith & Fulham Council worked together to create and deliver a confidence-building drama and storytelling project for other Afghan refugees.

In total, 16 young adults aged 18 to 25 attended the two-week workshop. The sessions focused on self-confidence and English skills. Attendees were encouraged to think of the sessions as fun, creative spaces where they could work on their everyday vocabulary without judgement.

The attendees practised English through storytelling and acting activities while Lyric staff supported the sessions.

Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F said:

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped offer such a warm welcome to the refugees who have fled Afghanistan in its dangerous new era. H&F is for everyone and it’s fantastic to see our newcomers being so warmly welcomed into borough life.

“We will continue to ensure every refugee in H&F has access to education and safe housing until they are provided with permanent accommodation in the UK.”

To mark the end of the workshops, The Lyric invited all the attendees to enjoy their festive 2021 pantomime ‘Aladdin’. The Lyric is financially supported by H&F, allowing us to provide 1,600 free theatre tickets to local schools.

A permanent home

Four Afghan families have been permanently settled into Hammersmith & Fulham.

These moves have been supported by the council and local services to help the families settle, including connecting them with local schools and health and employment services.

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