1885. Hassan Al Khawam
Hassan Al Khawam, from County Armagh, fled with his family to Northern Ireland from Syria in 2017 and, supported by The Prince’s Trust to continue education and find employment, co-founded an initiative ‘NI Hyatt’ to support other refugee and vulnerable families in Northern Ireland.
Before coming to Northern Ireland, Hassan’s father became ill and was no longer able to work, requiring Hassan to leave full-time education and take up a job to support the family. The Prince’s Trust, however, was able to cover fees for Hassan to take an English Language course to enable him to apply for university, and help him take part in a four-week training and mentoring scheme giving young people the skills, experience and confidence needed to find a job in retail. Hassan is now studying Software Engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast, and was inspired by the support he received to help other refugees and vulnerable members of the community access similar support. Through ‘NI Hyatt’, Hassan holds advice clinics on housing and employment, offers translation services, and helps refugees with developing social connections, finding learning opportunities and gaining skills to allow them to better integrate within the local community. He has also worked with the ‘Rio Ferdinand Foundation’ to run football tournaments that help bring the refugee community together.
In a personal letter to Hassan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn of your personal story, fleeing war-torn Syria to create a life with your family in the United Kingdom, and how you are using your experiences to welcome and support other refugees.
“Your advice clinics are a space where newly settled refugees can learn English, forge social connections and get advice on housing and education. Your work is a wonderfully practical way of helping people rebuild their lives. This is more important than ever as we continue to welcome so many families from Ukraine.”
Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said:
“I’d like to congratulate Hassan on the deserved recognition of his invaluable contribution to his local community in Armagh and to Northern Ireland as a whole.
“Hassan’s support of refugees and vulnerable people through his charity ‘NI Hyatt’ is truly admirable and shows the positive impact which young people can have on society here in Northern Ireland.
“To have come through hardship and achieved so much at just 24 years old, I look forward to seeing what Hassan can accomplish in the future.”
“I feel honoured with having been selected among many others who dedicate time and effort to different noble causes across the UK. This is clearly one of the most significant events since my arrival in the UK, where my family and I were so welcomed after being forced to flee our country torn by the war.
“As a co-founder of ‘NI Hyatt’, I believe offering my time and some of my experience to others who find themselves in similar circumstances is the least I can do to express my gratitude to the community and fellow newcomers. NI Hyatt is currently operated only by volunteers and all the credit goes to the people in my community who contribute immensely to the organisation’s successful outcomes to date.”