A SAFE haven for refugees in Southampton desperately needs to expand.

The Cross Culture Hub operates as a welcoming space so asylum seekers and refugees can meet and make new friends.

The group, which was formed following the Covid-19 pandemic, offers free sewing and knitting classes to migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere.

Nagina Kaleem leads the classes from a tiny room at Mayfield Plant Nursery in Woolston. Daily Echo: Nagina Kaleem Nagina Kaleem

Speaking to the Echo about the current space, the 54-year-old said: "We are very thankful for the place we have right now, but it's not enough. 

"We desperately need a bigger space where people from all cultures can meet together, make new friends, and learn sewing." 

Members meet every Wednesday from 10am until 12pm with the goal of helping individuals restore their confidence.Daily Echo:

Raxa Ladher, a 62-year-old resident, chose to join the group after being diagnosed with cancer in order to distract her attention from her condition.Daily Echo:

Raxa, who is not a refugee, said: "The classes really helped me keep busy and regain confidence. 

"Right now, the room we are working in is quite small and everyone has to squeeze in. 

"It would be nice to have storage space and more supplies. 

The Swaythling resident said if assistance is not provided, there will be a low turnout in the winter.

Meanwhile, Esther Adeleke, a Nigerian asylum seeker and mother of two sons, says the centre has improved her mental health.Daily Echo: Esther AdelekeEsther Adeleke

The 39-year-old Woolston resident said: "I left my country for safety reasons.

"I was really depressed and my counsellor recommended I attend free courses to help with my mental health. And this class did. 

"I come here whenever I have free time and have found a support network. 

"I believe a bigger space will certainly allow more people to come to these classes." 

After meeting at the sessions, Mehwish Ghanzanfr, from Afghanistan, and Kahar Hussein, from Iraq, became friends.Daily Echo: Mehwish Ghanzanfr and Kahar HusseinMehwish Ghanzanfr and Kahar Hussein

Kahar, a mum of a six-year-old girl, said: "Every week I am learning new things and meeting new people. 

"I really like sewing. Even at home, I am practising and making something for myself or my daughter." 

Mehwish added: "This is such a nice class. I hope we can get a bigger place soon." 

For more information search for the Cross-Culture Hub on Facebook, or, call 07988634408.