Ayan Hassan can't stop smiling. The Somali-born mother of three is talking about appearing in a short film to promote the London catering co-operative she helped to set up a year ago. Hassan, 30, is proud of her achievements since arriving alone in the UK as a refugee 11 years ago. Having left her mother and siblings in Kenya after the family fled civil war in Somalia, she is now an active member of her north-west London community.
The catering project – Spice Caravan – has grown from a group of six refugee mums cooking at school events, to a business with a £30,000 annual turnover, supplying festivals, private parties and the local farmers' market.
None of this would have been possible, says Hassan, without the support of Salusbury World, a small charity based at her children's school, Salusbury primary, in Brent. The country's only refugee centre within a school, the charity helps children and families adjust to school and community life in the UK. As well as providing start-up funding of £500 and kitchen space, Salusbury World helped Spice Caravan to access external training in skills such as business planning, finance and food hygiene.