St Augustine's - Refuge & Recovery

  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. St Augustine's - Refuge & Recovery

50 years of Sanctuary

St Augustine’s Centre is an independent charity which has been operating for over 50 years in the Park Ward area of Halifax. It specialises in welcoming and supporting people seeking asylum and sanctuary in Calderdale.

Since May 2021 funding from Active Calderdale has enabled the team at St Augustine’s to expand their support and make physical activity and wellbeing a more embedded part of the service. In doing so they have been able to improve the health and wellbeing of St Augustine’s centre members as well as improve the support and service delivery provided.​    

Strategic Aims

Due to the success of the funding for schemes like their bike library loan & repair service, which is now sustainable via other funds, they are now moving forward with their plans to build on their physical activity offer in other areas. They aim to support their members in the following ways:

Strategy priority groups: 

  •  People from lower-income households
  •  Women and girls
  •  Minority ethnic groups

Funded activities to include: 

  •  A wellbeing assessment process to show behaviour change towards physical activity 
  •  One-to-one support for individuals to access physical activity and sport provision in-house and in the community 
  •  A programme of activities
  •  Establishing partnerships with providers
  •  Training and awareness raising with leisure and sports providers

The project continues to target those most in need of support and has been co-designed with the community. The collaboration work with existing assets has been ongoing over the past year and will focus on in the next phase of delivery, making the provision sustainable for the future. 

The priority has been to establish greater connections between St Augustine’s and the community’s physical activity providers, in turn, this has allowed centre members to integrate into the community through physical activity and sport. 

Active in Action

In the short space of time that Active Calderdale and St Augustine's have been working together, the following are just a few examples of how members have been provided the opportunity to be active.


77 centre members joined weekly Boxing Sessions at the Star Boxing Club. There are usually around 10 – 15 centre members at each session. They are really proud of the developing partnership with Star Boxing and the success of this group. You can read more about it here, including a case study here following England Boxing’s recent visit.

Walking group  

62 centre members have joined (supported by a total of 14 volunteers) on 15 different walks – roughly one a month across the stunning landscape Calderdale offers. Walks tend to involve between 12-30 people each time and are between 5-8 miles.  A walk this January as part of the Commoners Choir walk-sing-swim was featured on Clare Balding’s Ramblings series on Radio 4.   

Football Team  

110 centre members have joined the football team over this time, across 57 weekly practices (1-2 a week) at Halifax Academy, Saville Park and Calderdale College. Around 15-20 centre members go to each session. The football team now have their own kit and has participated in a tournament with Happy Days involving 12 different teams for charity (our team came second), and a tournament with Calderdale College organised by Unique Hub. They also had internal games with different accommodation providers playing against each other. Most notably, they had matches against Friendly Football Club for Refugee Week in 2022 and 2023 with St Augustine’s winning both games!


27 centre members have joined 20 fortnightly cricket sessions at Cricket Asylum in Sowerby Bridge, averaging around 8 centre members at each session. One user is currently having a trial at Yorkshire County Cricket Club following their partnership work. Cricket Asylum has recently established a kit library; they are a hub to collect donated cricket gear to give to those unable to afford it including their users.  


32 centre members have helped with weekly gardening sessions, alongside 14 local volunteers. Each week they have between 5-10 people involved. Over the last ten months, the garden has really developed with a seating area, a sensory garden, and more flowers and vegetables (and labels in different languages). There are exciting plans for the future including making space to grow many more vegetables to cook with in their Welcome Cafe. They ran a gardening event last summer for all ages where they promoted the benefits of growing your own veg and had a cooking demo to show how to use homegrown ingredients effectively. They also gave out lots of plants in partnership with Together We Grow. 

Women’s Keep Fit  

47 centre members joined their weekly keep fit sessions led by a qualified instructor. There are usually around 6 – 10 centre members at each session. The Afghan women who have been involved hadn’t done any form of exercise before this class, have lost weight, become more flexible and their fitness improved.  

In the ten-month period between early April 2022 to the end of January 2023, 282 adults had taken part in physical activity and 144 children had taken part in the Healthy Holidays provision. Some of these children have been referred to out-of-school ongoing sports provisions too.   

Huge progress has already been made, however, due to the nature of those accessing the service, it can prove hard to keep people engaged for a longer period of time. This is why St Augustine's is committed to developing their training opportunities and widening their service offerings to combat the challenging reality of those in need.

For further updates on the St Augustine's project and the services they provide, keep an eye on our latest blog posts or visit the St Augustine's website.