Refugee unites with London host, except over football

The McCanns, mother and daughter, host Shannan, a young Syrian in need, making him feel part of the family.

LONDON - Judith McCann is a community nurse, who lives in East London with her daughter, Connie, 27, a teacher, and Shannan*, 22, from Aleppo.

Judith’s husband, who has now passed away, was a refugee from Chile in the 1970s. She and her daughter talk a lot about the difference between how people saw refugees then and how they see them now.

“Refugees used to get a very solid welcome and we wanted to show that warmth to others now,” Judith said.

Shannan moved in with the McCanns in August 2016 and works at a Lebanese restaurant in the evenings.

“People are all curious about him but he is like any 22-year-old. He likes clothes, eats rubbish, sleeps all day and works in the evening,” Judith said. "He can stay as long as he wants, until he is maybe 30 or 40 years old but no rush," she quipped.

Shannan was kidnapped in Syria in 2015 before deciding to flee his war-torn country. Now, he feels part of the family. The only problem, Connie added, with a twinkle in her eye, is that he supports Manchester United.

"We support Liverpool here. We told him he would have to leave if he continued to support Manchester."

*Name changed for protection reasons

This story is part of a Great British Welcome, the UK chapter of No Stranger Place, which was developed and photographed by Aubrey Wade in partnership with UNHCR, profiling refugees and their hosts across Europe. Great British Welcome will be on display at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 16 January - 16 March 2018.