Throughout the 2016-17 season, FURD has been running the 'Football Supporting Refugees' project.
Funded by the Premier League Fans Fund, the project is a season long programme encouraging football fans in Sheffield to engage with refugees and asylum seekers living in the city by attending matches together on a regular basis. More than that, it is about supporting more involvement in the whole match day experience.
A small group of refugees and asylum-seekers have become regulars on the Kop this season, accompanied by long-term supporters to act as 'buddies'.
On 22nd April 2017, members of the group went to their first 'away' match, travelling to Milton Keynes on a Sheffield United supporters' coach to join 7,000 travelling fans celebrating United's promotion with a 3-0 victory against MK Dons.
The match coincided with an initiative started by Amnesty International called Football Welcomes, to invite football clubs across the country to celebrate the contribution refugees make to football and to their wider communities.
The weekend of 22-23 April was chosen as it marked the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by Nazis on 26th April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, killing hundreds of civilians and leaving the town in ruins.
After the British government initially refused to take in any refugees from Guernica, following a public outcry, they allowed 3,860 unaccompanied child refugees into the country. They didn't provide any funding to support them, but the British public raised funds to look after them. Six of these went on to become professional footballers, making them among the first refugees to play in the English league.
Read more about these and other players and their backgrounds in our exhibition, 'Refugee Footballers in Britain', available online at the link below. We also have a hard copy available for hire. Please contact us for more details.
Learn more about Amnesty's 'Football Welcomes' initiative and which clubs were involved at the link below.
Visit our Twitter and Facebook pages at the links below for photos from the trip to the MK Dons match, including a fancy dress "Donald Trump" showing his support!
'Football Welcomes' is part of Amnesty International's I Welcome campaign for a better international response to the global refugee crisis. The campaign encourages local communities to work together to create a more welcoming environment for people fleeing conflict and persecution.