A FORMER Syrian refugee has talked about his experience of resettling in Stratford.
Hasan came to the town in 2019 from North Syria and feels that he has found a safe place to live.
Now a Family Support Worker for Warwickshire County Council (WCC), Hasan and his family are Kurdish. He originally grew up in Aleppo, a city in Syria, where he studied for a university degree in Drama and English. When the war started in 2011, Hasan was still midway through his studies, and he witnessed Aleppo lose everything.
Hasan was able to stay in Aleppo to complete his degree but when the city was overtaken in 2012, entire neighbourhoods were destroyed by shelling. His family were stuck in their home but after three days were lucky enough to escape to their hometown in the north of the country. They were able to stay there for a year but eventually ISIS reached this area too.
Hasan said: “There was a lot of risk to our lives when ISIS came to our area, so once again we had to leave. This time, we travelled to Kurdistan in northern Iraq where we were thankfully able to register with the United Nations (UN).
“After nearly five years of living in Iraq, we were nominated by the UN to resettle in Stratford in Warwickshire. You don’t get to choose where to resettle as it depends on things like the availability of accommodation, but I was really excited as I had studied Shakespeare plays, so I thought – yes this is the best place for me.”
Hasan, along with his parents and three siblings, arrived in Stratford in March 2019.
He explained: “In my own country I was scared of the safety of my family, but when I came to Warwickshire, I was just so happy. It was a different feeling, coming to a new country that you know respects people as human beings, and you have human rights. It’s an amazing feeling arriving somewhere knowing that you’re finally going to be safe and happy.”
After three months in the county, Hasan began working for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) where earlier this year he was told about an opportunity to become a Family Support Worker at WCC to work with other families who are resettling in Warwickshire.
Hasan joined the council in June of this year and is now looking after newly arrived families who are part of the resettlement scheme.
He continued: “I support the families with everything, from signing them up to job centres and registering with a GP, through to setting up a bank account and arranging tenancy agreements for accommodation.”
Hasan mainly works with Afghani, Syrian and some Sudanese families coming to Warwickshire. He is fluent in four languages – English, Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish – so he is able to help translate complex information to these families when they arrive in the county.
Hasan said: “I hope that because I know what they are going through, when these families arrive in Warwickshire, I can motivate them as they can see where I have now got to. All you need is some determination and not to give up hope.”
Alongside his job as a Family Support Worker, Hasan is passionate about sharing his story and continues to work with the RSC as well as volunteering for the Stratford Scouts.
Hasan continued: “This is a liberal country and you can be whatever you want to be. When I resettled in Warwickshire I was given support so there’s nothing stopping you from being who you want to be. My aim is to motivate the families I am working with and give them hope for their futures here.”
After living in Warwickshire for nearly four years Warwickshire feels like home to Hasan. His family have also settled well. His sister is studying to be a pharmacist at Keele University, his other sister is doing her GCSEs and his brother is studying electrical engineering.
Thinking ahead towards his future, Hasan added: “I’d love to stay in Warwickshire and complete a master’s degree in Humanitarian studies. I would also love to be a UN ambassador one day.”