Epsom High Street’s Zig Zag café has been recognised for creating an “atmosphere of welcome” for refugees and asylum seekers.

City of Sanctuary, an organisation supporting the development of a network of groups to advocate for refugees, awarded Zig Zag “Café of Sanctuary” status.

The award was presented to owners Syrian entrepreneur Mike Georges and his partner Carmen Ratoi, from Romania, at a surprise ceremony on Friday, June 8.

Mr Georges said: "We are very happy to get the City of Sanctuary award. It is a wonderful feeling. It is amazing to be part of the great team in Epsom, and to be able to help and support, with what we can, people in need."

At the café, the owners offer refugees and asylum seekers free drinks and food, as well as help with Arabic translations and, as Mr Georges put it, “above all, friendship.”

The café is also used as the social hub of Epsom Refugee Network, which helps refugees locally.

Jo Sherring, from the network, said: "The Zig Zag Cafe has long been a place of solace for refugees and those who support them in the Epsom area.

“Mike and Carmen have been key players in the Epsom and Ewell Refugee Network since we launched in 2015 and the very practical help they offer to refugees and asylum seekers right in the heart of Epsom has been a boon to our work and is the essence of why we are here."

The network is also currently applying for Epsom and Ewell to be recognised as a “Borough of Sanctuary”.

Ben Margolis, from City of Sanctuary, said: "It is inspiring to see how Zig Zag has become such an important hub for people seeking sanctuary in Epsom. Mike and Carmen are inspirational and fully deserve this award.

"I hope that Zig Zag's award will inspire other businesses, schools and groups in Epsom and Ewell to become part of the Sanctuary movement."