Ayman Chakouch

Ayman Chakouch

I’m from Syria I’ve been in England for twenty months. Hull is very quiet and a nice city. People here are friendly and I’ve met a lot of people at Open Doors.

Open Doors is a place that is for anyone new to the city to learn about the city or find friends. Open Doors is the first place I came to as a stranger. It helps people. It helps and supports people in so many ways with language support, food and clothes and of course socially.

I left my country because of the war, It was very dangerous in Syria there are no safe places there.

Wanyu Flora Yennyuy


I arrived in Hull in 2007 where I went to University and got my Masters in Environmental technology. Being in Hull I’ve always fought to get services for BME groups and championed diversity. I’ve worked at Open Doors since 2008 and seen them grow from small beginnings into a really great organisation.

I am so happy that other services are now coming to Open Doors notably the Red Cross, the NHS and the Police. I try to build as many bridges for the community as I can – I work with Preston Road Women centre who help women who run away from or who are in abusive relationships  and also work with other churches throughout the city – it’s like a tree it’s really growing we have great links with St.Bede’s in Bilton Grange, St. Aiden’s on Southcoates Lane and the Jubilee Church who also support the works of Open doors.

I think the greatest thing about Open Doors is the gift it has of welcoming strangers who are lost, vulnerable and desperate for help.

I believe that Open Doors really enhances diversity and inclusion for everyone in Hull.

Domestic violence I something I feel very strongly about, having experienced it personally. BME women are very vulnerable to domestic violence especially if they are isolated and living in a family situation where traditionally women have no voice this is often intensified by the isolation of being a refugee or asylum seeker this something that I am working to remedy through my involvement with the Preston Road Women’s Centre my heartfelt cry is for more women in my community to be aware of this.

Whilst waiting for permission to stay I have not been allowed to work so have developed and worked on my singing I sing with the Total Praise Choir and I also sing for the United Voices Choir. Recently I have recorded a song about refugees with Cecil Jones.

Photo and interview © Quentin Budworth

Sahar Shahin


Life in Hull is not good for me and I have a lot of problems with people who live here my neighbours aren’t nice, they throw all their rubbish into my backyard. I have to pay a lot of money for my studies and getting medical care from my GP is very difficult.

I took some medicine to help with my allergies but because there was no translator I didn’t find out that you shouldn’t take them if you are pregnant. Apart from the language difficulties the GP makes me pay for my prescriptions even though I am exempt for payment and have an exemption certificate.

I had to escape from Iran as my life was in danger.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Peter Harding

peter harding

I started volunteering at Open Doors 8 years ago, initially in the food room filling bags for clients. After that there was a time I was involved with homeless people who had nowhere to go on Thursday mornings.

We have lots of Eastern European migrants now and that was a problem initially because very few could speak English. In the early stages I would look out for people on their own and talk with them and that was certainly really helpful for people who were traumatised by the difficulty of their situation.

Subsequently there have been some very challenging events – a refugee family had a break in and lost everything Open Doors  helped them to get back on their feet – another family had a child that wanted to go to University but had no money or way of securing a loan – we helped them out financially through the Open Doors fund and have been repaid in full for this.

It is my belief that we should all live simply so that others may simply live.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Carole Mowforth


I first came across Open Doors as a member of the management committee I worked as a  circuit steward – but when I resigned my position  I decided that I wanted to stay involved with Open Doors so I came back as a volunteer. Initially I found the language barriers difficult to overcome.

I managed to secure some funding from Hull City Arts to start a choir it’s called United Voices we sing songs from Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Iona, and English Folk Songs a lot of our members come because they want to improve their English and that is really positive.

The spirit of Open Doors is really joyful. I just love the optimism that everyone has despite what they’re going through. I love the fact that the volunteers some of whom have been refugees and asylum seekers themselves are so supportive of the others who are less  secure and we can add to  that positivity despite what they are going through.

The Choir is run by Cecil Jones and Gabrielle Awre.

United Voices is open to all and meets on Thurday evenings at the Princes Avenue Methodist Church at 7-00pm to 8-30pm there is also a fortnightly session that runs between 1-15pm and 2-00pm at the church. Tel: 07791793659 for more information.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Babiker Abdelimagid


I am originally from Sudan. I like helping people and I’m happy and proud to be part of the Open Doors Community. I especially like meeting new people. I enjoy listening to the music that is played here.

When I came to England I did not have any English so working at Open Doors as a volunteer allows me to practice my English.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Open Door Nurses – Diane Rudd and Jane Sainty


We come to Open Doors every fortnight and offer screening for TB we also offer people ways to see the GP and can test for HIV. We also can sign post to accessible dental services and try and keep people healthy and can signpost people to the appropriate medical care. We love working here it’s our favourite clinic everyone is so friendly the people are lovely. You meet people who have been through really difficult circumstances they always seem to have a smile and to be friendly and really appreciate our help. The refugees and Asylum seekers are excellent people it’s great to be able to help people less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a real win being here we love it!

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Margret S

Margaret S

My name is Margaret known as Margaret S as there are so many Margarets here. I am the only black Margaret and happily working with Open Doors for five or six years now or more and Open Doors has a wonderful spirit.

I started volunteering in the kitchen preparing meals. I look after the newcomers into Open Doors the majority of whom are ethnic minorities. It is about welcoming all people I like to tell people that Open Doors loves everyone the door is open to everyone.

From there I went on to organise trips to other places like Bridlington which was one of the best trips out we’ve had so far and now I have the privilege of running the clothes shop. Open Doors offers  wonderful support to all of our clients especially the women and children all the migrant workers who are still trying to find their feet.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

David Turner


I’m David turner I’ve been coming to Open Doors for eight years I’m no longer sure exactly how long as it’s vague now in the past. I first came when I heard about the project and that coincided with the fact that I had just finished editing a story of someone who had come as an asylum seeker to Hull just before the second world war they had come over from Austria as a Jewish refugee and it seemed to fit in with what we were doing now there were refugees from other places here. So I came along to help with just what I could. Being a linguist I thought I might be able to offer some language help but in fact I haven’t done very much in the way of language help since then just general work.

First of all I was here distributing food parcels but since then I’ve concentrated more on the reception desk where we receive people as they come in, issue vouchers for food parcels and money to those who are destitute and have no financial support at all.

Since I’ve been here getting to know some of the people I thought it would be a good idea if we could collect some of the stories to explain to people in the neighbourhood why people come to this country because there are a lot of misconceptions about what goes on. So we prepared a sort of sheet, a pro-forma saying to people what sort of questions people would like to know about and then we left it up to them to write their own story about how it came about. Because it was a pro-forma some of the stories are very similar but some are much freer some had friends who could speak better English and then it was all collected together and some of the people wanted to keep their identity a secret so pseudonyms were used.

The book is called Seeking Asylum is available from Open Doors for £5.00 all profits are given back to Open Doors to help particularly with the hardship fund. To buy a copy of the book call 01482 345132 or email opendoorshull@live.co.uk

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth