SSI News Blog

A group of young people newly arrived from Syria has met with Welcome2Sydney ambassador Kate to enjoy a beautiful day out playing rooftop basketball at Ultimo Community Centre.

Young refugees from Syria meet new friends playing rooftop basketball
Young refugees from Syria meet new friends playing rooftop basketball.

Since its launch in January 2018, Welcome2Sydney has been hosting social, cultural and recreational activities to welcome newcomers to Sydney.

Over the last nine months, more than 700 participants have met with volunteer ambassadors to discover the city together. Visiting museums, having picnics in parks and walks in the city have all been opportunities for established community members and new ones to come together, learn from each other, establish new friendships and become familiar with their city, Sydney.

The basketball activity was a perfect opportunity for the young Syrian participants —part of SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Program and CORE Refugee Youth Peer Mentoring — to socialise and meet with people their age.

Habib, one of the participants, expressed how difficult it was for a newcomer to meet people and make some friends in a new country.

After meeting Kate and playing rooftop basketball, he said, “We felt really comfortable and there was a warm and familiar atmosphere. There was a feeling of friendliness and we spent an amazing time. We had so much fun, met new people, learnt to play basketball without falling on the ground and then we went on a tour around the city to explore Sydney.”

Kate said the activity helped increase her understanding of the humanitarian program and refugee needs. She said, “It made me realise that while I may not be able to relate to a lot of the things these people are experiencing as refugees, I can understand the need for friendship and a social life to make life more fun.

“I spent the day with the participants doing things I would do on a weekend with my friends and we all had fun. We all had the same kind of interests and decided on the activities as a team. Participants tried Mexican food for the first time. Two out of four weren’t fans but I was proud of them for trying something new.”

Welcome2Sydney is a partnership between the City of Sydney and Settlement Services International to increase newcomers’ social wellbeing, contribute to physical and mental wellbeing and increase the involvement and engagement of communities in community life.

Members of the Welcome2Sydney Advisory Community include Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, Jesuit Refugee Services and Asylum Seekers Centre.

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