A REFUGEE project is celebrating 15 years of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees.

The Asylum and Refugee Community is a project of the Methodist Church on Feilden Street in Blackburn, and has supported asylum seekers and refugees in Blackburn with Darwen since 2004.

Established as a response to the borough being designated an Asylum Seeker Dispersal Area by the Home Office, Wesley Hall Methodist Church extended the hand of friendship to the borough’s new arrivals from places like Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Vietnam, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia.

The team celebrated 15 years of working together with the asylum seekers and refugees by helping them in their new society.

Project Manager, Syd Soge, said: "I am immensely proud of the ARC Project.

“Fifteen years of welcoming the stranger from across the globe.

“What fuels our passion is our ethos of giving love, hope and providing a place of safety to those seeking sanctuary.

“It is our responsibility that they are cared for, valued and treated with dignity and respect, that their rights as human beings are returned to them so that that they feel their dignity has been restored.”

The ARC is a welcoming, safe, supportive and caring community where those have been forced to flee their homelands can be encouraged and enabled to re-build their lives after enduring trauma and hardship brought about by war or oppression in their home countries.

ARC offers hospitality, support and friendship to asylum seekers and refugees as they make a new beginning in the UK.

Ms Soge added: “It is a credit to the staff, volunteers and the people in Blackburn and Darwen Borough that we are able to touch, embrace and enhance their lives in spite of their individual needs and circumstances."