Refugee who fled human rights abuses then helped others settle in Weston wins unsung hero award

PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 October 2017

Foyer Federation trustee David Gold, chief executive Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa and Ahmed Ali Bekhiit.

Foyer Federation trustee David Gold, chief executive Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa and Ahmed Ali Bekhiit.

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A young refugee who fled to Weston-super-Mare from the human rights abuses being committed in his country has won a national award.

Ahmed Ali Bekhiit came to the UK to escape Eritrea, in Africa, which Human Rights Watch says has one of the world’s most oppressive governments.

He spent a year in foster care in Weston before becoming a resident at Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Weston Foyer, which helps young people who are homeless with accommodation and support.

Since moving in, Ahmed, aged 19, has impressed staff and residents by going out of his way to help three other refugees who live there, who hail from Somalia, Iran and Iraq.

He has stepped in as a translator when they needed to speak to staff, raise concerns and understand support sessions.

It was for this work that he was given the unsung hero award by the Foyer Federation, which oversees foyers across the country.

Ahmed said: “I feel incredibly privileged to have won the award.

“Since I arrived at the Foyer, I’ve seen chances to help other people like me who were living in a strange new place and could use a friendly face.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the staff at Sanctuary who helped me to find my feet in Weston, but at the same time it’s also been really rewarding to help other people and make a difference to their lives as well.”

Ahmed learned in July that his request for asylum has been granted, giving him the security to look to his future.

His time at the Foyer has given him the stability he needed to chose what to do next, and he is studying at Bristol College. He has already completed an English course, and is now studying IT.

SSL service manager Susan Whittle said: “Through Ahmed and the other resident refugees, myself and the staff team have learned so much about the stories and the very real struggles they have experienced; some have been truly horrific and saddening but also inspirational.

“Yet, despite this, each young person is attending college and trying to make the most of the opportunity, while it is available to them, to improve their situation and build a future.

“A lot of this is thanks to Ahmed helping them integrate; I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

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