By Usman Khalid, Director of HAVEN Coffee
It was a cold day during February 2007 that I had my first view of a different land, the first breath and smell of a different air. I said to myself, whilst looking out of the aeroplane window, ‘welcome to the United Kingdom’. Although it was 3 days after Valentine’s Day, I still fell in love with the city of London the minute I walked out of the Heathrow. That love has grown ever since, despite some bumpy rides on my journey to where I stand now 12 years later, writing this blog post.
Hi, I am Usman, a human being with a visa status of Refugee in UK. It’s a status which in modern democratic societies is worth more than anything for me and many like me. A permit of freedom to live my life like anyone else in this country granted to me on October 2015. Shortly after getting my status, I started looking to settle down both financially and socially. I registered with couple of charitable organisations helping refugees to get into the job market and finally joined Counterpoints Arts, the charitable organisation behind running and managing Refugee Week, as their marketing intern in January 2018. At Counterpoints I had a chance to develop a real understanding of issues refugees are facing and how important it is to work towards the integration of refugees into our society.
Just like Counterpoints Arts and many other similar organisations, I also believe that arts and culture are some of the best ways for people to integrate into a new society. Through arts and crafts you can bring societies and communities together. Keeping that in mind and my love for coffee, I founded HAVEN Coffee in February 2019. At HAVEN Coffee we serve ethically sourced, organic, fair-trade coffee to local communities. We have a social mission of supporting refugees by giving them barista training, so they can become more employable within society and promote refugee artists and art (both performing and visual). The target is to bring refugees and other communities in UK closer either through the job market or through arts.
We are very proud to announce our first comedy evening on 12 December at 2NorthDown, where some very talented comedians with refugee background will bring laughter to the audience, along with a special headliner, Nish Kumar, closing the evening. And that’s not all, we have a free raffle on the night, with some very cool prizes to win.
Tickets have all sold out now and it promises to be a brilliant event. For further info about HAVEN Coffee and where you can sample a cup of their java, visit the website.