Yemeni Community Association collect Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

A Sandwell group of volunteers who help new migrants and refugees settle in local communities have been presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The Yemeni Community Association's team of volunteers provides educational, recreational, cultural, spiritual and emotional wellbeing activities for people of all ages. Volunteers work to meet the needs of the whole community and in particular the needs of the Arabic speaking people and specifically support new migrants and refugees to settle in the area.

Now the organisation, which is led by chief executive officer Ragih Muflihi and based at the Greets Green Access Centre, in Tildasley Street, West Bromwich, has received the award from the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands John Crabtree.

Mr Muflihi said: "It was a great honour that our group of volunteers has been recognised at such a high level for the impressive standard of services it provides in meeting the needs of the local people. "We have about 40 volunteers who range from 15 years old to 70-plus from a variety of ethnic backgrounds who act as peer mentors to support people with a variety of issues. "They include emotional wellbeing support and helping to develop the English language skills of new migrants to enable them to access the wider community."

Over the past 12 months about 920 individuals have been helped. "Our work has helped to reduce community tensions and helped to ease the transition and settlement of new migrant families into the Sandwell community," he said. Mr Muflihi said that Sandwell had long been a destination for migrants but people who were less proficient in English "tended to live in silos" by not mixing with one another.

The organisation also runs mosque tours for local schools to help with the religious education curriculum and give live examples of how Muslims worship.

For more information, go to www.yca-sandwell.org.uk or call 0121 525 3909.

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