An African refugee from the region that has produced a roll-call of Olympic champions is running the Great North Run to raise money for Action Foundation.

Eyob, a volunteer with our InterAction Drop-in team, is running the GNR on September 11 for our charity, in recognition of the help he received when he first came to Newcastle.

Eyob, 26, fled his home city of Aseb on the Red Sea, as a young child with his parents in 2003 and arrived in Newcastle as an asylum seeker in November 2020.

At first, he felt quite isolated living outside of Newcastle city centre in Hebburn, South Tyneside. So when a friend suggested he come to Action Foundation’s weekly InterAction Drop-in, he didn’t hesitate to check it out.

Eyob said:

“The Action Foundation Drop-in means a lot to me. When I came here I saw lots of people playing ping pong and pool, having tea and asking lots of things.”

Our weekly Drop-ins and outreach work are a lifeline for asylum seekers and refugees who come to us with a wide range of issues. Eyob was able to get clothing and advice at the Drop-in, which is held each Thursday inside Turbine Hall at the CastleGate building, close to Newcastle’s Quayside.

“My Home Office interview was late, so I asked for them to write to them. Action Foundation communicated with the MP for Jarrow and in August I got refugee status. Before that, you are not free to do things as normal people.

“When you get refugee status you can travel, you can go somewhere to work and maybe visit your family. It’s a lot! I feel safe. It feels good now.”

“Action Foundation also helped me join South Tyneside College to learn English and I became a volunteer with the Drop-in. I told one of the project officers there, Raphaela, I was interested in running and she asked if I’d thought about doing the Great North Run.”

Eyob has only done one organised run before – the Leeds ‘Run for All’ 10k in July this year which he ran for a fellow refugee charity, PAFRAS (Pos­i­tive Action for Refugees & Asy­lum Seek­ers). He completed that event in 39:04 minutes.

“I feel like I am good at long distance running and I love the idea of helping other refugees,” said Eyob.

Eyob plays in a 5-a-side football team of Habesha people (Eritreans and Ethiopians) in Elswick, Newcastle. “I play for fun and to clear my mind,” he said.

He has also been doing regular training runs and is up to around nine miles in distance.

“It’s difficult to say what time I will do because training and competition is so different. I would probably say one hour 40 minutes but I’d like to do 1 hr 30 minutes. That’s in my mind but who knows? It depends on the day and on my performance.”

If you would like to sponsor Eyob, you can visit his sponsorship page here