Wigan Athletic Welcomes is designed to give refugees and people new to Wigan a warm welcome to the town and an opportunity to engage with and get to know their new community.
Working with Wigan Council, the programme provides refugees with information on services provided by the Community Trust and also invites them to attend a Wigan Athletic home game at the DW Stadium.
Amongst the services offered are our PL Kicks sessions for participants aged 8 – 18, our Extra Time programme to support those aged over 55, as well as education programmes and traineeship schemes for 16-24-year-olds.
In August 2021, we began to increase our support for Refugees by providing free football sessions to 90 Afghan refugees who fled to the UK following the conflict with the Taliban.
Aimed at improving both the physical and mental well-being of participants, the sessions had a vital impact on those taking part. For Ghiasi, a former member of the British Embassy in Kabul, the sessions became the highlight of the week.
He said: “It was a pleasure for us to be brought to Wigan and then welcomed by Wigan Council and Wigan Athletic to play football.
“As you can see everyone enjoys it and for many of my friends in the hotel, they are just waiting for Wednesday. They love it.
“From time to time if they have any appointments then more often than not, they have tried to postpone them to play! I must thank Wigan Council and Wigan Athletic for facilitating this session.”
As part of the #EFLWeekOfAction, the refugees were also visited by Latics duo Ben Amos and Scott Smith to meet participants and find out more about the impact the sessions had on them.
“A lot of them were coming up to me and explaining how much they enjoy the session and how much it’s a highlight of their week,” Scott said.
“I think this shows what kind of community we have in Wigan and how thoughtful and welcoming everyone is.
“One massive thing is that football is for everyone and this session certainly shows this.”