Plus Dane and refugees united on the pitch


We arranged a day of football to help refugees feel at home in their new community.

As part of the support available to its tenants and customers, we have a specialist, award-winning refugee resettlement team.

The team - a partnership with Merseyside-based charity SHAP and commissioned by Halton Borough Council - works with families from war-torn Syria who are beginning new lives in the area as part of the UK government’s refugee resettlement policy.

Laura Stanley, senior refugee resettlement co-ordinator at Plus Dane, said: “As well as giving practical help with housing, schooling, employment and learning English, staff have got to know the families and support them as they integrate into a new society and culture, providing appropriate activities to get men and women involved in and feeling part of their new communities.”

As part of this, our colleagues, partners and resettled families recently came together at the Frank Myler Sports Centre in Widnes for a football tournament, with more than 30 players taking part.

The event was opened up to other clients of Plus Dane-SHAP’s floating support service, with the aim of aiding integration between refugee families and Halton residents.

Kits were provided by ourselves and partner organisation Penny Lane Builders, and lunch bags were made available to children who attended on the day, to help support clients struggling with the cost of summer holiday expenses.

Andrea Howarth, executive director (neighbourhoods) at Plus Dane, said: “The work of our refugee resettlement team has been exceptional from the beginning. They are always coming up with ways to make sure our Syrian families, who have been through so much, have help, assistance and a friendly face every step of the way.

“Staff from across the organisation came together to make this event happen, really demonstrating Plus Dane’s values in action. Football is great for bringing people together and events like this can help people to get out in the community, avoid isolation and get to know each other, and I’m sure there will be more to come.”

Gerard McEvoy, managing director of Penny Lane Builders, said: “We were delighted to work with Plus Dane to support this fantastic event.”

This year the refugee resettlement team won the Support and Care Team of the Year Award at the Housing Heroes Awards, and has been shortlisted for Care and Support Provider of the Year at the 24 Housing Awards.