A CAFE designed to integrate refugees and asylum seekers hosted a "moving" event to share their culture and stories from home.

Set up by Debra Hill in 2019, Cafe Laziz was launched as an innovative way to bring together refugee and asylum seekers and improve their English skills in real-world situations.

By cooking meals from their respective countries, volunteers have been able to share their culture with the local community, and over time, the project has grown to accommodate 40 people from 27 different countries.

To build on the project's growing success, the volunteers hosted an 'Eat and Meet' event to mark Refugee Week, to share personal stories and explain what Cafe Laziz means to them.

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Volunteers shared food from their culture at the eventVolunteers shared food from their culture at the event (Image: Cafe Laziz)
Taking place at Lucem House Community Cinema on Monday, June 17, the Eat and Meet event allowed guests to try food from various cultures, watch a film created by one of the volunteers, and get involved in a Question-and-answer session with the refugees and asylum seekers.

The film, created by Egyptian filmmaker Abdullrhman Hasson, detailed reasons why the refugees and asylum seekers have been forced to flee their own countries and how they have adapted to life in and around St Helens.

Cafe Laziz hosts its weekly menu at Chain Lane Community Centre every ThursdayCafe Laziz hosts its weekly menu at Chain Lane Community Centre every Thursday (Image: Cafe Laziz)
Emma Bamber, who took over as manager of the project last year, said: "The Eat and Meet was great because it allowed the volunteers to show what they have been through, how they ended up here, and how much Cafe Laziz means to them.

"The Q&A sessions really helped to break down barriers as it allowed members of the public to ask questions that they may not usually have the chance to.

"When we are working with the volunteers week in and week out, it's easy to forget the impact that the cafe has had on them so it was really moving to be reminded of how big a part of their lives it is."

Cafe Laziz will be taking part in a friendly football game at Ruskin Sports Village on June 23Cafe Laziz will be taking part in a friendly football game at Ruskin Sports Village on June 23 (Image: Cafe Laziz)
With Cafe Laziz currently running English speaking classes on Tuesdays and its cafe service on Thursdays from Chain Lane Community Centre, the group are looking to find a permanent home so that they can expand the project even further.

St Helens Council is also supporting Refugee Week with a 'Communities Together' event to celebrate the diversity of those who have arrived in the borough, while further events and exhibitions will be showcased across local children’s centres, family hubs, and libraries.

There will be an exhibition on show at St Helens Library by Eman Al Naji, while a friendly football match between resettled people and local community figures will take place at Ruskin Sports Village on Sunday, June 23 from 2.30pm.

The Communities Together event will take place at Church Square Parish Church from 12pm on Saturday, June 22. More information about the full programme of events can be found here.