A Sudanese refugee has thanked a Salford-run centre for helping him to turn his life around.
The Cornerstone Day Centre in Hulme, run by charity Caritas Salford, offers refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to socialise with each other and help them set up a life in the UK.
Musaab, 26, came to the UK from Sudan. Crossing in small boat from Egypt to Italy, before traveling to Calais where he entered the UK by hiding in a wheel arch for 40 minutes.
The treacherous trip to Europe, which has ended the lives of many fleeing their home countries because of war or oppressive regimes, is one which no-one takes lightly.
He said: “The way a lot of refugees came across Europe in a small boat, a lot of people in a small boat and you can see in the news a lot of boats are sinking in the water and unfortunately some do not manage to cross into Europe.
“From France to the UK, I came under a lorry between the wheels for 40 minutes. It was hard; hard to hold myself between the wheels.
“I got granted asylum in 2016 before moving to Manchester which is where I found this unique day centre.”
After being granted asylum, they have just 28 days to leave the accommodation provided to them.
Asylum seekers receive just £37 a week and many find it almost impossible to find more permanent homes after leaving provided accommodation. As a result many become homeless and struggle to build a life here in the UK.
The Cornerstone Centre offers asylum seekers and refugees a temporary place to stay while also helping them to find permanent accommodation, such as shared houses.
He said: “I was homeless. After I got granted asylum I got asked to leave the accommodation within 28 days.
“In that period it would be impossible for some getting £37 a week to live on to pay a deposit or first month’s rent on a private rented place.
“So I presented myself as homeless here during the day and then I got advised if I wanted to, to attend in the evening to learn English so I got provided accommodation here, in the pods you can see as you come into the centre.”
Beyond offering temporary accommodation and education, the centre is a place where people are able to talk to health professionals, get their hair cut or just enjoy a nice chat with someone.
Andres Mora is the education coordinator at the centre and has run the project for the last two years.
He says that donations are vital to keep the centre going and allowing them to continue to provide the education and advice they give to those who need it.
“We’re not supported by the government, we aren’t receiving any official grants from them. Nor are we receiving considerable grants from private bodies or organisations.
“All of the work we do here in the day and the night is supported nu community donations and people giving to us in kind through good, services and also through fiscal donations”
“Without that we wouldn’t be able to provide the service, it’s as simple as that really.”
EE are the latest company to donate to the centre, raising £832 from a sponsored walk up Mount Snowden.
The telecommunications giant became involved with the charity thanks to one of their employees.
“They came to us. They asked us if there was any way they could support, I believe one of the colleagues who was working at EE had some experiences with cornerstone when he was a child, he went to one of the schools”
“He had dealings with the centre and knew about it so he wanted to give back and they wanted to support a local Manchester based charity. So they contacted us, asked us what support we needed and we said we were looking for financial support to continue our services.”
“They told us about this sponsored walk they were doing and they kindly donated all of the proceeds.”
Huge #thankyou to @EE for a #sponsored walk up Snowdon for our English Education for #Refugees. They raised a fantastic £832, which will help us to get people into university & back into careers they had before they were forced to flee their countries. We really appreciate it!!
— Caritas Salford (@CaritasSalford) December 12, 2018
The donation will go towards funding scholarships and examinations for the people who come to the centre, enabling them to go to university and enter the job market.
If you would like to donate to Caritas, or volunteer and become part of their team, then you can visit their website here, or call 0161 817 2250.