- Matt Piper attends a 'soccercise' session at Leicester City of Sanctuary
- The former Fox was there as part of Leicester City in the Community's Football Welcomes project
- Football Welcomes, in partnership with Amnesty International, aims to provide a welcoming environment for asylum seekers and refugees in Leicester
Leicester City in the Community works closely with the Leicester branch of City of Sanctuary, a national movement which is dedicated to developing a culture of inclusion for people settling in the UK.
The organisation's aim is to create a network of places throughout the country, like that in Leicester, which operate to include asylum seekers and refugees in the lives of their communities.
Every week, staff from Leicester City in the Community stage 'soccercise' sessions at The Bridge to promote healthy lifestyles, as part of the wider Football Welcomes project with Amnesty International.
On Wednesday, Piper, who emerged from the Club's Academy to represent the first team at the turn of the millennium, visited the centre to lend a hand and promote positive messages with the participants.
As well as taking part in the soccercise session, Piper also spoke to the people in attendance about issues close to their hearts, while also sharing stories of daily life in Leicester.
"I’ve been here about 10 or 15 minutes and everyone’s so friendly," he told LCFC TV. "When I first walked in, everyone was coming over to me, I’ve never felt so popular!
"Everyone wanted pictures and it was just a really good vibe. The Football Club now has got a really huge name and it’s a really community-based club.
"So, to come to places like this and get involved, to come once a week and put sessions on, health, fitness, advise about certain things, I think it’s brilliant. It’s much-needed in the community in Leicester."
Meanwhile, Pete Hobson, Chair of Leicester City of Sanctuary, provided more detail about the organisation and the important role Leicester City in the Community has played in its success.
"The Leicester City of Sanctuary is one of around a hundred city sanctuary groups up and down the country, but this is ours," he said.
"What we do is we provide welcome to asylum seekers and refugees that come to our city. There’s a meal that’s about to happen behind us. We always provide hot food.
We think Leicester’s a great city of inclusion, we think the Club is committed to that, and we absolutely want to see how we can develop that because the people who come here are desperate to form part of the life of that city.Pete Hobson Chair, Leicester City of Sanctuary
"Asylum seekers have to survive on about £5 a day which leaves very little spare for anything else. We do English language here and we have classes elsewhere as well.
"We have a lot of socialising. People donate goods that we can give away, but a lot of it is actually just finding a place to be accepted and welcome and you see that all around you.
"We’ve been developing our relationship with the Club over the last couple of years.
"There’s somebody here every week from the Club who works with the soccercise and the exercise and the wellbeing, we love Sarah, and we know there’s more that we can do.
"We think Leicester’s a great city of inclusion, we think the Club is committed to that, and we absolutely want to see how we can develop that because the people who come here are desperate to form part of the life of that city. We want to make that happen."
For more information about Leicester City of Sanctuary, please click HERE.
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