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Liverpool chefs unite for Afghan refugees

Liverpool Afghan Resettlement Group organised a special welcome meal for over 300 Afghanistan refugees in Liverpool on Sunday 31st October.

A special meal was cooked for over 300 refugees in Liverpool, organised by the Liverpool Afghan Resettlement Group, which featured three chefs who created a range of typical Afghan dishes to help give the refugees the warmest possible Liverpool welcome.

Paul Askew, chef patron of The Art School Restaurant, Zainab Nezami, Afghan chef and star of YouTube channel Zenjoy, and Erroll Graham, Rastafarian chef and social entrepreneur, all cooked where the refugees are currently based.

Rozanne McCoy founded the Liverpool Afghan Resettlement Group back in August when she was horrified by the events at Kabul Airport. She says:

“I set up the group on Facebook and was hopeful that it might attract about 30 people so that we could set up a community sponsorship group to support just one Afghan family to resettle in Liverpool. To date, the group has 1.3k+ members, which is amazing! Our first project was a city-wide collection of clothes, shoes and toiletries at The Kuumba Imani Millennium Centreon Princes Road in L8 which was a great success and I wanted to do more. So now we are raising funds toward this Sunday and if anyone can please donate anything it would be a huge help. We have raised over £1000 already which is a great start.”

Rozanne was on a Zoom call when she first heard about Zainab and her offer to cook for the Afghans who’d been evacuated under the ARAP scheme and were staying at in Liverpool. She turned up at Kuumba Imani shortly after to donate some clothes including hijabs and told Rozanne more about her lovely offer. Shortly after that, Erroll got in contact to see if he could help with the movement too. Rozanne told him about Zainab’s idea to cook and she had the idea of linking them up. She then realised that Paul Askew was a member of the group and decided to message him and ask could he be involved and he also said yes. The three guest chefs will prepare the food in collaboration with the hotel chefs on the premises to create an incredible evening banquet for everyone. 

Rozanne says:

“The aim of this project is to give the Afghan newcomers the warmest Liverpudlian welcome that we can. All the food served will be typical Afghan dishes and I hope that the guests get some comfort from having a little taste of home. I’ve tried to imagine myself in their shoes and thought about what would make me feel a little bit better if I were a displaced person from Afghanistan through no fault of my own suddenly in a different city and country. Two very special guests have been invited and we hope that they can come. We’re very fortunate to have Zainab as our lead chef as she’s Afghan and came to Liverpool 20 years ago to escape from the Taliban. Erroll will bring an interesting Caribbean touch and of course Paul Askew is one of the UK’s leading and most pioneering chefs. He’s also an ambassador for Thrive, an organisation that helps people who are refugees, and a later project will no doubt involve working with them.”

Rozanne is a writer and yoga teacher from Liverpool who previously taught English and Academic Skills at the University of Liverpool. For a period of seven years 14 years ago, she was a caseworker for people who were asylum seekers and refugees, an ESOL teacher and an interpreter and translator for Spanish. These experiences gave her a unique perspective on refugee issues and have fed into her current commitment to responding appropriately to the Afghan crisis. 

Details of the LARG here: Liverpool Afghan Resettlement Group (LARG) | Facebook

READ MORE: Collective of city’s leading chefs to launch brand-new restaurant ‘Barnacle’

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