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Newport Pagnell's Afghan refugees thank 'friendly' community

A group of Afghan refugees who spent two years living in a hotel have thanked the "friendly" community that welcomed them.

They fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took control in August 2021.

A group of volunteers in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, offered the women support and friendship when they arrived.

The women then took part in activities at the Mead Centre, with a new exhibition there sharing the story.

It is designed to show how the two groups learned together and built lasting relationships.

Frozan Marofi, one of the women to arrive under the government's Operation Warm Welcome scheme, said the UK was a place where gender equality was taken seriously and women could "dream, study and work without any limitations".

Ms Marofi, who used to live in Kabul, said: "After the takeover of the Taliban, the rules and rights for women were changed.

"Women in my country were banned from following their education, their careers and their own dreams."

She added of settling into life in the UK: "The community was very nice and very friendly.

"They welcomed us and have shown us kindness and they embraced us as a part of their community.

"I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to come to the UK and I'm sharing my experience as an Afghan immigrant who is integrated into British society."

Volunteer Sue Jordan said: "The women often feel isolated, so we wanted to offer friendship and share cultural experiences.

"We had fun, laughter and tears. We shared the joy of new babies being born and the sad knowledge of what women and girls continue to experience in Afghanistan."

The exhibition, Celebrating Afghan Women in Newport Pagnell, is open until 16:00 BST.

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