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A new café founded and operated by resettled refugees, who have arrived under the Government’s Refugee Resettlement Programme, has opened its doors in Newcastle’s West End.

Lazeez Kitchen, named after the Arabic word for ‘delicious’, will serve traditional Middle Eastern cuisine from Fenham Library.

The café is being supported by Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), Newcastle City Council’s Support Employment Service and Newcastle City of Sanctuary to help refugees settle into their new life in the UK.

The aim of Lazeez Kitchen is to help resettled refugees gain valuable employment skills and training, whilst also developing their English language skills and support integration into the local community.

The community café provides an opportunity for resettled refugees to share the catering skills they have brought with them for the benefit the whole community.

YHN’s Refugee Move-On team, which provides accommodation and support to people that have been recently granted leave to stay in the UK, came up with the idea of launching a community café to help resettled families overcome some of the challenges they face when coming to live in the UK after finding that many of the people they support have a background in catering.

Jen Vinton, Customer Services Director at YHN, said: “We believe that Lazeez Kitchen will provide a valuable bridge to employment and community integration for resettled people coming to live in Newcastle and everyone involved is excited at the benefits the café will bring to our refugee community and customers alike.

“Last summer we held several pop-up cafés across Newcastle to gauge customer response and found that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive so it’s exciting that we now have a more permanent base.”

Cllr Karen Kilgour, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Health and Social Care, said: “It is an absolute delight to see people who have experienced so much hardship in their lives now playing an active role in their new community and making a really positive contribution to our great city.

“As a City of Sanctuary this is precisely the kind of initiative we want to see: resettled refugees putting their skills to good use, developing themselves as citizens of Newcastle and being enabled to go on to bigger and better things.

“It is heart-warming to see the progress being made in supporting refugees into new communities in Newcastle and this is a real demonstration of what can be achieved when we come together to support people, whatever their background.”