A Syrian refugee has achieved his dream of starting up his own business in the UK after opening a butchers in Ashford.
Father – of – three Ibrahim Awad is now running a grocery and Halal butchers in Beaver Road, not far from the town centre.
Mr Awad arrived in the town with his wife and children just before Christmas in 2015 as part of the ‘Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme’.
When he arrived, the former stonemason was determined to forge a new life for himself and his family, as well as providing something he thought the town was missing.
Anne Forbes, refugee resettlement co-ordinator for Ashford Borough Council, said: “From the moment I me t him at Stansted Airport it was clear that Ibrahim had huge determination to create a new and successful life in Ashford.
“From day one he would spend hours walking round the town, familiarising himself with the area and getting to know the locals. He did not speak much English but found ways to communicate with people in the community.
“He took any employment available and soon bought himself a car. Struck by the lack of Middle Eastern (and specifically Syrian) foods available locally it wasn’t long before he started driving back and forth to London wholesalers in order to supply familiar and comforting produce to all the resettled families and many other eager customers he had found in the Ashford area.”
Mr Awad says the realisation that residents didn’t have a regular source of Syrian foods served as an inspiration for him to start his own business.
Working together with his friend and businessman Kalim Dogan, he has converted a derelict shop next to Ashford’s Travis Perkins builders’ merchants yard into the Alim Butcher and Grocery store.
“Many people in Ashford wanted a new shop where they could buy foods not easily available unless you travel to London,” he said.
“I want to work hard to support my family but also provide a good service for others in the Ashford community, a place
that welcomed me and my family.”
Ms Forbes added: “Ibrahim’s incredible strength of character, ambition, indomitable good humour and sheer determination has brought his dream to reality.
“This makes me so incredibly proud, both of Ibrahim and of Ashford for providing the opportunity.”