We’ve just produced this leaflet specially-designed for unaccompanied asylum seekers trying to navigate the system in the UK. Written in simple English and responding to difficulties and frustrations that many of our young clients have expressed, we hope that it will prove useful in working through the bureaucratic maze that is the intersection between the UK asylum system and the field of social care.
Time and again, we encounter cases of young people seeking refuge in the UK who are landed with uncommunicative or unscrupulous immigration solicitors, or feel that their voices are not being heard by their social workers. Sadly, unaccompanied young asylum seekers can be particularly vulnerable to poor quality service due to barriers they face in fighting their own corner. An empathetic and professional lawyer or social worker can make all the difference to a young person’s case and experience of starting life in the UK.
We hope this leaflet, which will be translated shortly in Tigrinya, will help empower young people seeking asylum to advocate for themselves and know where they can get help when they need it.
My name’s Mohamed and I am 15 years old. I started homework club when I was 4 years old and I stopped when I was 14. My first trip was on a farm. I saw cows, goats, horses and chickens. It was the first time I’d seen these animals since being in Ethiopia.
As I got older, I went on more and more trips. I went on a camping trip but it rained the whole time. We melted marshmallows over the firepit. We went swimming in a pool and there were waves from a wave machine. It was so much fun.
I also went on a residential to Stubbers for 3 days. We went kayaking and on a banana boat, paddle boarding, canoeing. I flipped by boat upside down – it was terrifying – but I flipped it back up again. At club I even learnt how to jetski!
I stopped going to club for a few years because we were moving homes a lot, but I started back again.
I’d say to other kids: join club! Most kids don’t have the opportunities for trips and stuff as their parents aren’t wealthy. Club basically takes you on holiday, and you can tell your friends about your holiday stories when they tell you theirs.
Next week we’re taking part in the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge, the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign, to raise money for our Homework Club to improve local refugee children’s education in Wandsworth. The exciting thing is that your donation can go twice as far…
When? The Big Give launches at 12pm (midday) Tuesday 28th November (#GivingTuesday). Your generous donation will be doubled until 12pm on Tuesday 5th December. That’s 1 week to double your donation!!! So if you donate £20 to KLS then The Big Give matches your donation with £20 = doubling your donation to £40. Any amount can be matched to help support the education of local refugee children. So this Christmas please ‘Double your Donation’.
What? Love to Learn Homework Club for refugee children living in poverty in London.
“I love going to Club – I get help with my homework and I’m in the Ukulele orchestra. I like cooking best. I also went to the seaside – I’ve never been before.”
– Leena, a child who attends Club.
Need: Refugee children struggle to get their homework done as their parents don’t speak much English and can’t give them the education support they need. They also don’t access many activities and rarely go on holiday. This means they miss out on experiences and have low levels of English. Children we work with live in poverty, overcrowded housing, single parent families. They often don’t have access to computers or other learning resources. They are underachieving at school and have low confidence and self-esteem.
Solution: Love to Learn provides weekly homework and activities club for refugee children and trips during the holidays. This ensures that children can get their homework done with help and access to computers, printers, internet and other learning resources. Volunteers help each child to improve their learning, read together and then do fun activities (gardening, cooking, trips etc.). Children not only improve their learning skills, confidence and English, but also have fun learning new skills and making friends.
“Thank you so much for helping Aisha to engage with literacy, as well as keeping on top of her health and supporting mum! You guys are angels.”
P.S. When you make your gift next week, every pound can be matched for double the impact! Thank you for giving as generously as you can. It’s greatly appreciated. P.S.S. Remember that donations won’t be doubled until the Christmas Challenge launches at 12pm on Tuesday 28th November.
We have a full programme of summer fun for the children & young people from our homework club and our mentoring scheme, but we’re looking for some extra hands to make it all happen. From rock-climbing to camping, we have a great range of one-off volunteer opportunities — all we need from you is some time and energy!
Activities we’re looking for more volunteers for include:
15TH JULY – Alice in Wonderland Opera , Holland Park, roughly, 10am – 3/4pm.
Help take our junior club to the opera in Holland Park.
24th JULY – Family beach trip, Brighton, roughly 10am – 6pm.
Join us on our yearly family trip too the seaside.
1st-4th AUGUST – Sport in the park. TBC
This yearly event held by Battersea Summer Scheme needs volunteers to attend and join in and help young people partake in a range of sports.
2nd – 4th AUGUST – STUBBERS.
Help us take 10 young people (our senior homework club members ) to a residential away trip in Essex. We will be taking part in mountain boarding, quad biking and much more.
7th – 9th AUGUST – RUSHDALE FARM.
Help us take 10 young people (our junior homework club members) on a camping trip to Rushdale farm. We will be camping in the countryside with the chance to meet farm animals, go swimming, and of course have a camp fire!
12th AUGUST. The Borrowers, 10 – 3pm.
Fun trip to Polka Theatre in Wimbledon.
14th / 15th / 16th August
On each of these days we have a small trip of 7 young people going to either Flip Out/Go Ape and Rock Climbing. Along with this we have a three-day workshop for 4 children in the Saatchi Gallery (Sloane sq). For each of these trips we need 1/2 volunteers daily.
All you need is free time, energy and a smile. DBS will be provided and expenses can be covered. Please contact Molly@love-to-learn.org.uk if you would like to help us this summer!
Report by one of our lovely volunteer learning mentors, Keith
On a wonderful spring Saturday morning in Battersea Park mentee, Shabir and I joined a crowd in bright sports gear (and a dog which came dressed just as itself) to warm up for a 5K run. We had arranged to meet at the tube at 8 00 AM to travel together but Shabir was there at 7 30. So keen! We had decided in the depth of winter that Love to Learn was such a fantastic organisation it would be good (when it got a bit warmer) to raise some money to support the great work and to get a bit fitter at the same time. It was huge fun and made even better as Sophie came to support and take photos of us with medals and flapjack. So far we have raise £150, and its still coming in!
We are pleased to be able to share this report commissioned by Sir Walter St John’s charity, who fund our work with secondary schools. The report summarises some of the lessons learnt during the course of our work with refugees and asylum seekers about the challenges they face in British secondary schools in the hope that it will influence professional practice in this area.
This contribution is from our fantastic volunteer, Mery, when she started with us in September.
Firstly, I am very excited to be part of such a dynamic organisation that makes a big impact in many young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ lives. In the next 6 months I will be involved with Love to Learn’s mentoring programme and helping the team in general administrative support.
My refugee background not only led me to be aware of immigration issues that many people face everyday but, most importantly, I have learnt how vital any form of education can be to refugees and asylum seekers to live happier lives in their new land. I know it is easier said than done, but despite the up and downs in life, education opens future pathways. I believe education is an important and necessary step for integration. Due to the language barrier, cultural difference or religious beliefs, or feelings of inferiority when mixing with others, refugees often stay around people with the same cultural background as them.
Now I hear some of you saying “Education? So boring! What’s the point?” A few years back I asked myself the same question, but the people around me proved me wrong. Luckily I had wonderful mentors and employers who believed in me and gave me the right direction in life. I sometimes had difficulties taking their advice, and thought, what do they know about how I feel, or about how refugees feel in a new environment? But knowing what I wanted to do in life helped me to stay focused and motivated throughout my study years. Often refugees’ first priority isn’t really education, as they have to deal with loss of status, language difficulties, and homesickness, and in most countries only a few refugee candidates access higher level education.
So when migrants come to the West, they may not believe that they have any chance to go to college. Even if they want to and try, they may not be accustomed to independently searching and applying for college places. An adult raised in the West is more likely to have general understanding of how the education systems there works. If such a person wants to pursue higher education they are most likely to know where and how to start – such as identifying potential universities/colleges, listing means of funding his/her studies like family support or student loans. These opportunities are not immediately available to most refugees. To begin with, most refugees may not even know whether they qualify for loans or not.
For me personally, completing my studies at university has completely changed my life and given me the courage to challenge and be passionate about issues from race, gender to immigration.
I truly believe every refugee and asylum seeker deserves the chance of higher education and find out for him or her self what a huge difference education can make in her/his life. There is nothing worse than living an isolated life because of language barriers or lack of practical knowledge about the services around you, even if you are smart and want to integrate.
Love to Learn provide support and advocacy enabling young people to access educational rights and opportunities, enjoy learning, and have the confidence and aspiration to fulfill their potential. For advice, please call 02075850339 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and phone number and we will get in touch.
My Family is Like was made by Musie, Sky, Noah, Isabella, Selam, Riyan and Yursa from our Wednesday Club for Poetry International. Big thanks to the Southbank Centre, Alastair Cook, Luca Nasciuti and Carolyn Jess-Cooke for making it happen.
“In the summer holiday we went to Hindleap Warren (its like a forest) for 3 days. I was really fun and exciting. We did lots of activities; high ropes, swimming, canoeing, night walk and an assault course.
The most important that I care about is my family because they have done everything for me and if it was not for them I wouldn’t be here today. They have supported me in tough times and I am very grateful of them.
The second most important is my beliefs because it makes me who I am,teaches me self-discipline and helps me to decisions.
The third the most important thing to me is education because it gives me knowledge so people don’t take advantage of me and also so I can get a good job with a reasonable wage.
The fourth thing I about is my community because its where I live and I want it to be a safe environment for young people.
The fifth I care about is my friends because we all look up to each other and help each other in times of need.