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From seeking asylum to national award winner

Foyer Federation trustee David Gold and chief executive Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa with Ahmed.
Foyer Federation trustee David Gold and chief executive Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa with Ahmed.

A young refugee living in Weston-Super-Mare who came to the UK to escape human rights abuses has been recognised with a national award for his efforts to help others integrate.

Ahmed Ali Bekhiit, 19, a resident of Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Weston Foyer recently picked up the Unsung Hero accolade at the prestigious Foyer Awards evening.

The awards were organised by the Foyer Federation, which oversees foyers across the country, in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Ahmed, who fled Eritrea for a chance at a safer life, spent a year in foster care before being referred to the foyer, which provides supported housing for young people aged 16 to 25.

Since moving in, he has impressed staff and residents by going out of his way to help the three other refugees living at the service, who hail from Somalia, Iran and Iraq.

By acting as an intermediary, Ahmed has stepped in as translator when his peers needed to speak to staff, raise queries or concerns or fully understand support sessions.

SSL local service manager Susan Whittle said: “Through Ahmed and the other resident refugees, myself and the staff team have learnt 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, whilst 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.” 

With support, Ahmed settled in well at the Foyer, which has provided him with a sense of safety and stability as he built relationships and took opportunities to develop himself. 

He also receives financial support from social services, which provides him with money and a bus pass to enable him to travel to Bristol where he attends college. He has now started another year at Bristol College, where he studies IT, having already completed a course in English.

Ahmed learned in July his request for asylum has been granted, giving him security, stability and the chance to look to the future in a calmer environment.

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