They are part of Huddersfield’s rich cultural fabric.

Refugees from dozens of countries have put roots down in the town after fleeing violence, persecution or even death in their home countries.

To mark Refugee Week, we have celebrated some of those who have overcome all barriers to carve themselves new lives full of success.

Read more: Refugee Week: Refugee Abiey Legesse shares battle for asylum in UK

Time Line

Refugees who made a home in Huddersfield

  1. Khalil and Rojin Khalaf, Kurdish owners of Middle Eastern Med One on Westgate

    The Kurdish pair from Syria who are behind one of the town centre’s most popular restaurants moved to Huddersfield in 2003 after years of living in different countries.

    Khalil fled in 1978 amid fears for his safety due to being involved in activity opposed to then president Hafez al-Assad. He lived in Lebanon and West Germany before being joined by Rojin in Bulgaria. They lived in Sweden, where their daughter Jane, who tragically died in 2014, was born.

    After having settled in Shelley, they opened their restaurant in December 2014 where they serve mouth-watering dishes from hummus and falafel to Shawarmas and stews.

  2. Razan Alsous, Syrian founder of Yorkshire Dama Cheese

    She is well on the way to becoming the next big cheese.

    Razan is celebrating continued success with her company, which she launched in Linthwaite, shortly after fleeing Damascus in Syria in 2012.

    Her halloumi has already won her several prestigious awards, including a bronze in the World Cheese Awards and a silver in the British Cheese Awards this month.

    In addition to her deli in the Packhorse Centre, she and her team tour Yorkshire food markets and fairs.

  3. Sleman Shwaish, Kurdish and translator from Syria

    Sleman arrived in Huddersfield in 2013 after escaping compulsory enlistment in the despotic Assad regime’s army.

    He studied for an MSC in Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Huddersfield and hopes to find permanent work in a humanitarian agency.

    A refugee co-ordinator at the British Red Cross and volunteer with Citizens UK, he has also helped others through Leeds City of Sanctuary and the international arm of the Red Cross, Red Crescent.

    In 2014 he was invited to the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace due to dedicating four years of his life in Syria to providing first aid and crucial support to war victims.

  4. Jasleen Kaur, Afghan lawyer for international legal firm Nabarro

    When Jasleen Kaur came to Huddersfield as a refugee from Afghanistan she couldn’t speak a word of English.

    She and her Sikh family fled Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan, in 2005 due to religious persecution.

    Jasleen attended Moor End Academy and Greenhead College before graduating with a first-class degree in law from Huddersfield University.

    After working as a paralegal for Kirklees Council, she studied legal practice and was offered a two-year training contract with Nabarro in London.

  5. Thabo Mkwananzi, Zimbabwean professional musician

    He made waves as the front man of his hip hop and soul act Extra Curricular and acoustic soul act Thabo and the Real Deal.

    A professional musician who works with a music charity, he was given asylum in the UK in 2003 aged 18.

  6. Abiey Legesse, Ethiopian development worker for Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield (DASH)

    University-educated Abiey fought hard to get leave to remain in the UK, where he travelled to escape torture and threats to his life in Addis Abbaba.

    Volunteering to help other asylum seekers at DASH helped him overcome depression and begin building a new life. He offers advice to those who come through the charity’s doors and supports them through the claim process.

  7. Izzat Taljeh, Syrian artist

    Talented Izzat fled to Huddersfield in 2014 with daughter Salma to escape the war and be with wife, Maysoun, who was studying at the University of Huddersfield.

    Izzat, who has a Fine Art degree from Damascus University, says he finds painting the harrowing scenes he left cathartic.

    He uses watercolours and even coffee to paint the chaos.

  8. Mariam Tola Williams

    Orphaned in Lagos, Nigeria, at just 14, she was brought to England with a criminal who stole from her, burned her with cigarettes and made her sleep in a garage.

    Now she is a Kirklees College graduate in Health and Social Care and volunteers in a charity shop and in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

    It led her to be named Yorkshire’s Refugee of the Year.