A centre is opening up to support Kurdish people in Portsmouth

A NEW centre is opening up to help people in the city who are part of the Kurdish community.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 12:12 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 3:20 pm
Brian Futcher at his new Kurdish Hiwa centre. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Brian Futcher, who used to own antiques shop Squirrels on Kingston Road, Buckland, is opening up the Hiwa Centre, two doors down from the original shop, which is now shut.

The centre, which translates to Centre of Hope, will allow Kurdish people to make appointments with Brian for help with document filing and advice on living in the city.

Brian will also offer free English language lessons for women, with a free creche service included for those with children.

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Inside the Kurdish Hiwa centre Picture: Habibur Rahman

Brian’s love for the Kurdish community began in the 90s when he was made aware of the conflict in Iraq. He took a trip out there to help the civilians and has since visited Syria, Iran and Turkey.

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He said: ‘I could see what was being done to the Kurds by Saddam Hussein on the TV and that led to me going out there and at that time, when Saddam was there, it wasn’t as straightforward as it is now.

‘I responded because I could see that I had love for the Kurdish people.’

His antiques shop Squirrels welcomed in a lot of Kurdish people who would often seek Brian’s help with filling in legal forms and advice on living in the city.

After it closed in April 2019 after 35 years, he wanted to create a place those people could come to receive the same support.

He said: ‘It’s called the Hiwa Centre because I wanted it to be in their language, it’s theirs, not mine or the churches or anything.’

The 76-year-old received a civic award for his work within the Kurdish community both in and out of Portsmouth.

He has also helped organise several events around the city that support Kurdish people, including the planting of the Garden of Hope - a memorial site to remember victims of the Halabja poison gas attack of March 16, 1988.

The centre will officially open on Saturday, February 8.