A FOOTBALL tournament is being held by a charity which works with people seeking asylum.

Justice First, based in Stockton, helps people whose asylum appeals have been rejected by the Home Office, supporting them to re-engage with the legal system and submit further evidence or a fresh claim.

During Refugee Week, which takes place in June, the charity celebrates by holding a football tournament.

"The purpose of the event is to promote cohesion and friendship between different communities, whilst sharing our common love of the beautiful game," said charity worker Kath Sainsbury. "This will be the first opportunity to hold the event since the Covid lockdown."

Last time the tournament took place, about 20 five-a-side teams from the refugee and local communities took part, including a women’s team.

The event has been taking place for about ten years and was the idea of Tresor Bukasa, a football fan originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who now works for the British Red Cross and is a trustee of Justice First.

The Refugee Week football tournament has been held for ten years

The Refugee Week football tournament has been held for ten years

Curtis Fleming, Justice First patron, former Boro defender and current assistant manager of Bristol City FC, will present the trophy to the winning team.

He said: "Many clients are destitute, and they are not allowed to seek work, access public funds or apply for emergency homeless accommodation. Justice First liaises with other agencies to gather evidence to support asylum claims, give advice, find solicitors, and generally offer a friendly face to people who don’t often see one. Football is something that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years and it is good to think that we can have fun, promote the work of Justice First and raise money for a good cause at the same time."

People can get involved by entering a team, donating a prize for the raffle or sending a donation. For an entry form, or more information contact Solofa at solofa@justicefirst.com or on 01642 601122 or Tresor Bukasa on tresortbukasa@redcross.org.uk 07725 205383.

The event takes place on June 18, between 10am and 2pm at: Goals Soccer Centre Teesside, Stockton Road, Middlesbrough TS5 4AF. Contact Justice First on: 01642 601122.