New year brings new beginnings for refugees who escaped dangerous gangs to make a new life in Halifax

The New Year means new hope for this family who escaped brutal gangs sending them death threats to make a new life in Halifax.

By sarah fitton
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 11:53 am
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 12:32 pm
Julio (middle) with his son and wife
Julio (middle) with his son and wife

Julio Cesar Hernandez Montano, his wife Ediht Inmelda Acevedo de Hernandez and their son Julio Junior had to flee their home in El Salvador 11 months ago.

The country has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America and gang violence is common.

The family had to leave behind everything they knew and many of their loved ones but said people in Halifax have been kind, welcoming and eager to help.

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“It was a bit difficult to start with, because Britain has a different climate and a different language, but now we feel safe and welcome, and we would like to remain here for many more years,” said 59-year-old Julio.

“People have been very welcoming, very kind and very polite.

“We thought we would be discriminated against but people are very nice and prepared to help. We feel at home, or even better than at home, which makes us very happy.”

The family have had vital support from St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax, which specialises in help for refugees and asylum seekers.

That support had included providing advice for navigating life here, such as how to book doctors appointments, as well as providing food, clothing and shoes.

“We go on walks and day trips, and we learn English,” said Julio. “The centre has helped my son, who is deaf, to get a disabled bus pass so he can get free bus transport. This is great because he can go places and volunteer his time, which makes him feel useful.

“There are no words to say how grateful we are to St Augustine’s for all they have done and carry on doing for our family.”

Asked about his family’s hopes for 2022, Julio said: “We trust in God to give us good health, to help us learn English and make a success of our lives in this country by taking the opportunities that present themselves.”

For more information about and to donate to St Augustine’s Centre visit www.staugustinescentrehalifax.org.uk .