Swim England

A nation swimming

Dulwich Dolphins Swimming Club donate unwanted swim kit to Afghan families

A scheme to help Afghan refugees access swimming and fitness facilities has been set up by Dulwich Dolphins Swimming Club.

As many families have been housed in hotels up and down the country since arriving in the UK, they have been very restricted to what activities they can take part in.

However, many of the hotels have swimming pools and some local councils have also offered free leisure passes to the families which allows access to their local authority pools.

Despite these opportunities, many are still unable to access swimming after having left Afghanistan with little belongings, meaning they have no swimwear available.

In an effort to help, co-chairperson of the Dulwich Dolphins, Sue Mitchell, has organised a charity drive with the club asking parents and swimmers to donate anything they think might be useful.

They are asking for people to donate adult swimming costumes, children’s swimming costumes, any baby float costumes, swimming goggles, hats, swimming noodles or floats, swimming bags and any towels useful for the pool.

Everyone should be able to enjoy swimming

The London-based club have already received more than 500 pieces of kit, predominately swimsuits and goggles, with Speedo also donating a large amount of equipment.

One of the first swimmers to donate her unused kit was 12-year-old Bella, who feels very strongly about helping the families.

She said: “It’s only fair to give everyone the same chance to learn how to swim and also to enjoy swimming.

“I hope these donations help the refugees settle into UK life and forget their pain. I can only imagine how difficult things are for the Afghan people right now and anything we can do we should do.”

Another swimmer who has donated her unused swim kit to one of the families is nine-year-old Madeleine, who said: “I’m really pleased to be able to help the families from Afghanistan.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy swimming. It’s such a fun sport and is a great way to get fit.”

Hoping to inspire others

As swimming is an activity that can be done as a family, the hope is that this will help the mental and physical health of the parents and children.

Everyone Active are one of the leisure operators local to Dulwich Dolphins and their regional contract manager, Mark Basker, said: “Here at Everyone Active, we are passionate about engaging people from all ages and backgrounds in physical activity, and strive to provide fair and equal opportunities to all.

“We’re proud to be able to offer gym and swim sessions to Afghan refugees, free of charge, and our friendly team will be on hand to welcome these families at our leisure centres in Southwark.

“This is not only a great opportunity to get active, but also for those who are going through similar struggles to come together and form new friendships.”

Dulwich are hoping to inspire other clubs across the country to help where possible and provide equipment to the families.