After escaping war in Syria, a refugee has used her initiative – and local milk – to make halloumi in northern England, creating jobs and winning awards along the way.
“Halloumi is a staple food in Syria,” Alsous, a 33 year-old refugee from Damascus, told UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. “We mainly have it for breakfast, with bread and olives.”
After failing to find the cheese, usually imported from Cyprus, Alsous had her lightbulb moment. “It was then that the click happened,” Alsous said. “We are in Yorkshire where the milk is wonderful. Why not make halloumi here?”
Today, Alsous heads the Yorkshire Dama Cheese Company, a successful business producing halloumi in the heart of Yorkshire. Her dairy treats are now sold around the country.
“When we came here, it was a matter of thriving. We had to prove ourselves,” said Alsous, who sought asylum with her husband and three children in the UK at the end of 2012. They had lost their family business in an explosion in Damascus. “We lost a lot in Syria, so there was no time to sit back and regret the past. As soon as I got my asylum accepted, I had to do something.”
Princess Anne visits the Yorkshire Dama Cheese company to open the new factory in January 2017. © Yorkshire Dama Cheese Ltd