Ancha Gaye

Ancha Gaye

My name is Ancha Gaye and I am from Gambia I volunteer at the Open Doors Center.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

David Emmanuel Koye

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I came from Sierra Leone to England to study boat building at Falmouth technical college. Later on I studied at Southampton and Wisbech then I went back to Sierra Leone. I returned to England a few years later to complete my final certificate in Yacht and Boat building at Yarmouth. When I completed the course I couldn’t go home because there was a civil war going on in Sierra Leone and so I asked for asylum.

After a few years I was granted asylum and I got a job at the boat building yard in Bridlington, at first they gave me really horrible jobs but gradually I became a key part of the team. I was always a good worker and had higher qualifications than the other workers.

I praise god for looking after me and know that because we are all god’s creatures that everywhere is home.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Anne Dean

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I retired to Beverley from Derbyshire eleven years ago to give myself a treat. Although I was happy there I was a bit restless and then I heard about Open Doors and started coming in weekly for the morning and after a few months I decided I wanted to live in this community where I could meet the people I saw on Thursdays in the normal course of life in the street.

I sold my house in Beverley quite successfully and was able to buy a slightly bigger house split into two flats to let upstairs one at a time or a couple at a time to asylum seekers and I’m now having my seventh tenant from the Congo and it has all worked out very happily and so I can come to Open Doors just walking up the road and I wouldn’t have not done it for anything.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Jean Rippon

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Artist Jean Rippon volunteers at Open Doors and is one of the key workers on the allotments which make a vital contribution to the organisation. Her work is featured in the background of Saeid Jameli’s portrait.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Saeed Jameli

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The weather is a little dark and night is coming. I’ve been sitting in the van since 9-30 in the morning and I am in Hull. I don’t know this city and I have a thousand thoughts running through my mind. I’m very afraid and distressed I don’t know anyone. I know I will never forget this day.

Today is one of the days of mid October I’ve been brought to the old town the car is driving and I’m looking out through the window and I’m wondering where I’m going. The driver takes me to a house and I get out of the car a lady greets me. She explains everything I was on Spring Bank I asked her what is Hull like?

Hull is a small town but it is boring I have been wandering around the shops for two days I’m still not sure where things are. Whilst I looked round shops in town I was frightened and scared.

I’d spoken to one of my friends and he told me that in Hull they didn’t like strangers and in the last few years many asylum seekers had experienced difficulties and been upset. So because of this any time I left home I was very scared eventually I realised that things were not as he told me.

I started going to the square near the BBC and Queens Gardens and spent a lot of time in the town center. I spoke to people and asked lots of questions I noticed that people were very kind to me.

One day I went out in my blue jeans, white shirt and flip flops I went into a shop and I noticed that the security guard and shopkeeper were staring at me. There was something very odd about their body language and the way they spoke to each other and looked at me. I was confused, when I got home I told my friends what had happened and they laughed and said that they probably thought I was gay because of the way I was dressed.

The days passed and I started going to Open Doors to learn English. Halloween was getting close and I saw there was an event in East Park, it took me an age to get there, on the way I saw lots of people with different outfits and masks on. There were people dressed up all over Hull it was fantastic. There was a stall selling stuff for children and I stopped and talked with them.

There was another place and it looked like a hall way or tunnel with music that sounded scary. I asked a gentleman to take a photograph of me with my mobile phone, he pretended to run away with the phone but then he turned around laughing and joking with me he was really nice person and soon we were having a laugh he was just helping me to make the most of my time. He made my night.

Days passed and I had been going to the church for a while. I had met a lot of people and they were all nice to me and I found friends and lots of nice things started to happen for me in a way that has changed my life.

The Methodist Church feels like my own church. I met people here who are like angels I’m not exaggerating.

Some days last thing at night I walk by the Deep to see the river flowing to the sea and seeing the birds at this place in the day time is so beautiful like having your cheek stroked. There is a statue of a family of immigrants there travelling from Hull to America. Near the Deep there is a statue of a shark and beautiful views. The Quayside is also very beautiful.

Days and nights passed I ran out of money and I lost my accommodation. It was a hurricane tearing through my life the feelings of fear and anxiety returned. I had nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep. I was still going to Open doors and I spoke to them about my problems. They supported me and reassured me. Those angels suddenly put things right for me they gave me somewhere to live. I am currently in a house and I have a really big family of friends in Hull at the moment i can honestly say that the city of Hull for me is a ‘City of Angels’.

I thank all the people who have helped me and I will never forget what they have done for me. I will help any asylum seekers find their feet here.

Photos © Quentin Budworth words Saeed Jameli

Anna Grzybowska

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I came to England in 2011. 6 days after moving into Hull I visited Methodist Church and the ‘Open Doors’ project. I can still remind myself the first impression about this fascinating place. I was astonished by the numbers of the volunteers and the unique remarkable atmosphere. I felt deeply touched by the diversity of this community and its generosity in every aspect. Instinctively and without hesitation I joined the project and after short period of time, ended up as a leader of the migrant workers desk. Every Thursday became a “church day” in which I am focusing on the advice given to migrants, mainly from Eastern Europe. From week to week clients became people with name and their own history. Other Volunteers became my friends and my friends also became new volunteers.

Today after two and a half years the migrant workers desk is run mainly by the Volunteers of the Polish Community Centre which was established in 2013 by me and few other people willing to support immigrants. The energy of this place and all those people without shadow of a doubt shaped my personal, social, professional and spiritual development for which I am genuinely tremendously grateful.

Hull is a special place as it is my Home now. My life is created by people and for people. I am very lucky to be surrounded by kindness, friendliness and generosity. I am enjoying my existence in this city, where I found my “place to live” where I work, where my child is growing, where every day is bringing something new….and I love our Humber Bridge and this view is always making me feel so good when I am coming back from every journey.

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Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Bashir Shiraj

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I work for Open Doors Project, set up by Princes Avenue Methodist Church in the year 2000. We welcome and support asylum seekers, refugees to help them exploring and enabling them to play a full positive role in our society.

My role is to make sure the activities of the Open Doors run smoothing, coordinate with our diverse team of volunteers, the members of Open Doors Management Committee, working partners, supporters and make sure the needs of our clients are met as much as possible.

The things I like about living in Hull are the people, the geography of the area, the city centre, museums and the central library.

The challenges facing people from different cultures in Hull are around confidence building, making progress in their careers, social integration and sometimes in certain area of hull, racism or less acceptance.

Over the years people are becoming more welcoming to new arrival from all over the world, becoming multicultural society.

By having my portrait taken I am showing my solidarity, presence, belonging and support to the various development initiatives taking place in our city.

I would like to see greater social cohesion, people working together, more jobs and a diverse approach and policy in the organisations and agencies of our city and a clean, safe and environmentally friendly place to live.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Cecil Jones – CJ

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Cecil Jones is a Musician born in Freetown Sierra Leone. At the age of 12 he started his musical journey as a Soprano boy and later developed into a Tenor singer at the Portuguese Town Methodist Church Choir in Freetown Sierra Leone.

Cecil’s love for music developed over the years after several performances as a soloist. There was one remarkable performance which he did with his church choir that was broadcasted over Sierra Leone television and was viewed nationwide. This gave him the urge to do more in the field of music as friends and family watched his performance and gave him positive and encouraging feed backs.

Not long after that performance, Cecil became very passionate about music and wanted to try and play any musical instrument that was made available to him. And in doing so, he joined his school Brass Band (The Sierra Leone Grammar School) and also the CCSL Gospel Band were he learnt to play several musical instruments including: Trumpet, Guitar, Keyboard and Drums. Backed with his playing skills, Cecil developed into an impressive singer/songwriter and has recorded two Gospel albums “My Life Time” and “This Is My Time” respectively.

In 2004 Cecil moved over to the UK where he pursued his musical career and completed a two years Music Diploma Course.

Here in the UK, he served as the Choir Director at Walworth Methodist Church for three years and also sang with various choirs including: Leoa Academic Male Voice Choir, Ballanta Music Makers, Hull Choral Union and Hot Gospel Choir respectively. It was also during this period that Cecil fell in love with the Saxophone and decided to take it up as a new instrument, today the Saxophone has become Cecil’s main instrument and his fluency in this instrument is admirable.

He loves the Saxophone and feels inspired playing it, he finds so much pleasure whenever he plays at different functions. People love the sound of the Saxophone and always say they feel so much happy and joyful listening to Cecil whenever he plays and this brings him much satisfaction.

On his relocation to Hull in January 2012 together with his family, Cecil has been actively involved with organising musical functions in the local communities. He also supports various charities including Best Hope, Afro Food Lounge and volunteer at Hull City Council, and the Open Doors Project at Princes Avenue Methodist Church providing music on a weekly basis, organising fund raising concerts for the project, and helps prospective musicians to develop their musical abilities. At Princes Avenue also Cecil leads a Choir comprises of people from various communities in Hull called UNITED VOICES.

Here in Hull Cecil is known as a multi talented musician and some call him CJ Sax, a name given to him by Augustus Ana Banjo of Best Hope and Afro Food Lounge, who’s support and contribution to the Hull community is immensely appreciated.

Many Thanks to all who had inspired and supported me in my musical journey over the years and up to this day especially my wife and children, you are all very much appreciated.

Music is my feeling and everybody knows.

Here is my latest composition a song titled ‘MY YORKSHIRE HOME’ this song is dedicated to the Open Doors at Princes Avenue Methodist Church and All the people of Hull ‘MY YORKSHIRE HOME’ written, composed and performed by Cecil Jones aka CJ.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth

Mohammed Aljaberi

Yemeni-man portrait

In Leeds it was very hard, we were a long way from the shops and the walk to school was an hour and a half. The house was too small.

When I came to Hull I could get a bigger house and the shops are much closer and I can buy my family food we are much happier here.

Hull is a cheap place to live. A lot of people are really friendly here.

In Leeds I was very isolated here in Hull I’ve been really supported. I have six children between the ages of 12 and 18 months. My wife has abandoned us and possibly returned to the United Arab Emirates we have been here for four months.

I came from the Yemen to study but cannot return there now as the Yemen is at War. If I was alone I would return but because I am concerned for my children’s safety I cannot go back at the moment.

Photos and interview © Quentin Budworth