City of Sanctuary an organisation that supports the development of a network of groups (villages, towns, cities and regions), to advocate for people seeking sanctuary in the country and worldwide.
The award was presented in a surprise ceremony to café owners Mike Georges and Carmen Ratoi this morning (Friday 8th June) by the Worshipful Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Cllr Neil Dallon, and Ben Margolis from City of Sanctuary. (picture attached)
The award is offered to groups or communities based on City of Sanctuary principles of achievement and charter values such as learning, embedding and sharing. For local groups working with refugees and asylum seekers, the award helps recognise Epsom as a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants. Epsom is also seeking to be recognised as a 'Borough of Sanctuary' - the application by the Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network (https://epsomrefugeenetwork.org/) is currently under way.
Zig Zag has been a place of welcome since 2015 when Nina Kaye first came into the café in with a Syrian refugee who she was hosting in Epsom. Mike Georges, the owner, offered to help in whatever way we could. "We have always offered any refugees and asylum seekers free drinks and food, as well as help with Arabic translations and, above all, friendship," Mike said.
Mike Makhoul Georges is a Syrian entrepreneur who along with his partner, Carmen Ratoi, from Romania have created an atmosphere of welcome, especially to refugees and asylum seekers becoming their main point of contact for help. Zig Zag café is also the social hub for Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network (ERN), a group of people committed to helping refugees and asylum seekers locally. ERN host a monthly social event at the café to talk and meet new people who care about helping refugees.
Ben Margolis, City of Sanctuary
* "It is inspiring to see how Zig Zag has become such an important hub for people seeking sanctuary in Epsom. Mike and Carmen are inspirational and fully deserve this award."
* "I hope that Zig Zag's award will inspire other businesses, schools and groups in Epsom and Ewell to become part of the Sanctuary movement."
Jo Sherring, Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network
"The Zig Zag Cafe has long been a place of solace for refugees and those who support them in the Epsom area. Mike and Carmen have been key players in the Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network since we launched in 2015 and the very practical help they offer to refugees and asylum seekers right in the heart of Epsom has been a boon to our work and is the essence of why we are here."
When Syrian teenager Abdulaziz Alkhaleed first arrived in Britain in 2015, he could not speak a word of English and even going to the supermarket made him nervous. Read More.
A moving glimpse into the quiet world of an ordinary English town in Surrey where a group of people have formed their own practical and positive response to the enormity of the refugee crisis. Read More
Jo Sherring, from the Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network, said: "The event was amazing for connecting people who feel they want to do something to help. They were able to learn what is going on locally and how to get involved. Read More.