A refugee who stayed with a family in Epsom for nearly half a year has returned to the town last week to give a talk.

Ahmad Al-Rashid, 28, who works at the UN Migration Agency, returned to Epsom to give a talk at the town hall on November 7 on refugee resettlement. 

Mr Al-Rashid, from Aleppo, fled Syria in 2015 and survived a 3,000 mile journey on foot, in a dinghy, by plane and in the back of a lorry.

After travelling through Greece, France, Germany, Denmark, and spending a summer behind one of Middlesbrough’s red doors, Mr Al-Rashid moved to Ridgeway to live with Nina Kaye and her husband Timothy Nathan.

Mr Al-Rashid is still in contact today with Ms Kaye and Mr Nathan, with whom he has developed a warm and lasting friendship.

He told the Comet: "When I first arrived at the property and Nina opened the door, I got a feeling they were a bit apprehensive. Twenty four hours later, we were starting to break the ice.

“A few weeks later, Nina and Tim went on holiday to Latin America and left the house with me for a month. I was managing the whole house by myself.

"It made me think that they trusted me. “

Mr Al-Rashid said it was important to him to give back to local authorities because of the support he received in his hour of need.

He said: “I found it really important because of the support I received from authorities. It was time to give back."

He added: “It was interesting to return to Epsom because I was in my suit as a professional, so it felt really amazing. After that we went to a local cafe run by a Syrian man.

“I spent over five months in Epsom living in that home and I have got wonderful memories and it’s part of my life.”

Ms Kaye said she insisted the young man return to Epsom to give advice and share his experiences with Epsom and Ewell Borough Council officers and local host families.

She said: “The workshop was riveting. We spent three and a half hours there and it whizzed by. What’s also lovely is that Ahmad is now giving back.

“There’s so much bad news, and this is a really positive story.”

Ms Kaye founded the charity Refugees at Home, which places refugees with willing families across the country.

The 66-year old, who has hosted 25 refugees in her home, said she was inspired to do her bit by her late mum’s own experience fleeing the Nazi regime in Austria in the 1930s.

Ms Kaye, whose mum Marianne passed away two months ago, said: “A lot of people in my mother’s family were in concentration camps. It’s in my blood.

“My mum’s greatest pride and joy was when her great grandchildren were born. With each generation born, she said, that’s one over Hitler.

Ms Kaye said her mum supported her in her work with refugee families and even insisted to pay for a young refugee's school uniform.

"She was incredibly supportive. She said 'I'd like to pay for the boy's school uniform.' We had enough money to pay for it. It was the last thing she did before she died."

After being joined by his family, Mr Al-Rashid moved to Buckinghamshire and went on to study violence, conflict and development at SOAS on a bursary.

He now works delivering refugee information sessions to local authorities and communities for the UN Migration Agency as a cross cultural facilitator based in London.