York & North Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Dales farmer helping asylum seekers

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Media captionAsylum seekers get a taste of life on a Yorkshire Dales farm

A Yorkshire farmer who takes on asylum seekers and refugees to help during lambing season says it is "one of the best thing I've done".

Rodney Beresford, who farms 500 sheep on hills at Ribblehead, welcomes around 100 people a year from places including Kuwait, Somalia and Nigeria.

He takes part in a scheme offering work at his farm for a day.

"It is surprising how many farmers from different countries come and help you learn something," he said.

The visits are arranged by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust charity.

The scheme has been running for 11 years and offers a "small financial incentive" to farmers.

Image caption Rodney Beresford farms 500 sheep in the Yorkshire Dales

Mr Beresford said: "It is one of the best things I've done over the years for helping me. It genuinely makes a difference.

"I get some free labour for the day, which is pretty good because they do help a lot."

Called the Darwen Asylum Seekers and Refugee Enterprise (DARE), the group includes people who have been in Britain for a few months and others who have been waiting to hear about their application to stay for years.

The most recent group includes Eassa Malik, an asylum seeker originally from Myanmar, also known as Burma.

"I love it," he said. "I am having a great time playing with the sheep and lambs.

"I hope I can stay in this country. I feel safer over here. I am scared to go to my home country because there is ethnic cleansing going on over there."

Image caption Eassa Malik said he loved being in the Yorkshire Dales

Judy Rogers, from the charity, said some people came to the farm to work and others just to visit and "connect" with countryside.

"Many of these people have fled from their homes," she said.

"They suffer from severe trauma and many won't talk about the journey here because it has been too traumatic and difficult.

"It is the human thing to do to welcome them into our country.

"Coming out here on a day like this, they see the beautiful landscape, they see something that connects them back with home, with their lives back at home: the rural landscape."

Image caption Yemi Ajibola from Nigeria has been in the UK for seven years

Yemi Ajibola, a Nigerian asylum seeker who has been in the UK for seven years, said his time on the farm was "an amazing thing".

"Which is why you see me asking a series of questions because I want to know what is going on," he said.

"How the sheep is being castrated? How they are being tagged and all that? These are things I have known before but I haven't seen being done in practical terms.

"This is a kind of environment where we love to live, the atmosphere and the fresh air. It is amazing."

Somalian refugee Habib Mohammed Saeed echoed Mr Ajibola's comments.

"When I see a place like this I remember home and it makes me very happy," he said.

"This is my kind of work."

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