A PROJECT which helps asylum seekers and refugees in Newport will be able to start two new projects to help them integrate into the community thanks to a grant from the South Wales Argus parent company.

The Sanctuary, which is part of charity The Gap Wales, has been helping asylum seekers and refugees in Newport for 10 years.

The project has now been awarded £3,200 by the Gannett Foundation – which is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc, the parent company of Newsquest Media Group.

Project manager Mark Seymour said they will be using the money to fund two new projects. Firstly, they will be buying woodworking tools to make benches.

Mr Seymour said: “Many of them have professional backgrounds but we will be providing training. It is a good way for them to get work experience and give back to Newport.

“We want to donate these benches to local schools.”

They will also be taking an allotment as a “therapeutic activity” and buying gardening tools and a polytunnel. Their aim is to grow flowers and give them to community venues across the city, Mr Seymour added.

He continued: “It is a way of giving back to Newport. They feel welcome here and they want to contribute.

“Refugees and asylum seekers are people who have fled prosecution or war in their country – they are not here by choice.

“We help people from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, north and south Sudan, Eritrea or Ethiopia.”

Mr Seymour said they are open five days a week and are based in Bethel community church, in Stow Hill. They run English classes, social activities, trips and games nights, for example.

“Generally, about 25 people come through our doors each day,” Mr Seymour added. “It is about social and emotional wellbeing while helping them integrate in the local community.

“The project gives them an opportunity to meet other people and brings people together.”

Refugee David Pal, who fled south Sudan in September 2016, said that the Sanctuary is what made him stay in Newport after his refugee application was successful.

Mr Pal, who was granted refugee status in September 2017, said: “Because of the project, I felt I am at home here. Every time I had a problem, they would help me.

“They helped me with my mental and emotional wellbeing. I also made a lot of friends here.”

Other projects who have benefited from a Gannett Foundation grant include Roots@Bettws, which was awarded £960, and St Woolos Cathedral, which was awarded £3,000 towards tools and equipment for creating a wildlife habitat within a church yard.