A new community initiative is helping support displaced people in Somerset through one of our county’s favourite summer activities – cricket.

Somerset has a long history of welcoming people who have been forced to leave their homes due to fear of violence or persecution. Anyone who finds themselves placed in Somerset will be supported by Somerset Council working alongside a range of charities and partner organisations.

The Maqbul Project has been organised by the Somerset Cricket Foundation with funding from Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) through Sport England’s Together Fund.

Taking its name from the Afghan Persian word for ‘beautiful’ and ‘accepted’, Maqbul has a simple aim – to use cricket to impact positively on the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in Somerset.

Training and matches have been taking place at North Petherton and Weston-super-Mare Cricket Clubs, supported by groups including Charis Refugees, SASP and Voluntary Action North Somerset.

Jon Bendle, Somerset Cricket Foundation’s Managing Director, said:

“As a Foundation we are striving to make cricket both inclusive and accessible across all our communities. This multi-agency approach to delivery means that the Maqbul project is a shining example of what is possible when we develop and build strong local partnerships.

“The programme has developed into something which is both exciting and hugely rewarding for Somerset Cricket Foundation to be part of. The passion, desire and enthusiasm of the participants is overwhelming, and it’s so rewarding to see these groups becoming true communities through cricket. The key piece of this project is to integrate the participants into the local cricket community by giving opportunities at local clubs.”

Mustafa Shaikh, Somerset Cricket Foundation’s Community Activation Officer, added:

“As Community Activation Officer and Coach, it has been a real pleasure to be involved with the group. Their sense of humility and gratitude is something to behold. In fact, it’s been inspirational.”

Somerset Council is highlighting the project as part of Refugee Week, a celebration of the many positive impacts of refugees and asylum seekers.

In Somerset, there are a number of ways you can get involved to support some of the most vulnerable people in our local communities – from volunteering just a few hours of your time, becoming a host as part of Somerset Council’s Homes for Ukraine initiative, to becoming a landlord if you able to offer a suitable property for private rent.

Find out more about how you can help support displaced people in Somerset by visiting the Council’s Refugee resettlement in Somerset webpage.

To find out how you could change a child’s story as a foster carer for an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child, visit fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900 to find out more.

Maqbul cricketers with representatives from Somerset Council, Somerset Cricket Foundation, Charis Refugees, SASP and Voluntary Action North Somerset.

About this article

June 19, 2023

Debbie Rundle


Press Release