It’s Refugee Week 2020 this week. Hooray!
We’re celebrating the contribution that refugees make to our community here in Battersea. We can’t meet to have a party because of the Coronavirus lockdown, so we wanted to share some short case studies and stories about the lives that our refugee young people and their families live. They are just meant to be illustrative, and hopefully give you an insight, into some of their challenges, as well as their joys. We’ve changed names to ensure anonymity.
Abdul, Hassan and Yusef
Originally from Syria, Abdul, Hassan and Yusef came to London from a refugee camp in Jordan. They have been coming to our Love to Learn education team’s Junior Homework Club for over a year. When the family first arrived they couldn’t speak any English and the children’s behaviour was erratic due to the trauma they had been living through. Over time the children have built great relationships with staff and volunteers and their confidence in the Club environment has grown. All the boys have flourished in the Club. We have supported them with ways of communicating how they feel and what they would like to do. For example, after he has done his homework, Hassan plays with Lego every week with one volunteer who he has known since he arrived and has built a strong and trusting relationship with. The whole family came on 7 trips with us during summer 2019. Their mum, Halima, said they would have otherwise just stayed at home.
Halima has found it extremely difficult to adjust to life in London and has suffered with her mental health. She speaks little English and was scared to go to places alone with her children. During the summer the family came with us on two beach trips, where they all swam in the sea! They also came on a trip with 70 other families to a large farm in Kent, to Battersea Park, cooking and footballs clubs.
Ayan is 13 years old and has been coming to the Seniors Homework Clubs for the past 5 years. Ayan is the eldest of five children. Her family lives on a low income, in overcrowded housing in Battersea. Two of her siblings have severe developmental delays and special educational needs. She supports her parents at home and has a lot of caring responsibilities.
More recently both her parents contracted Covid-19 and were extremely unwell. Ayan had to take responsibility for taking care of her parents and her siblings. Initially Ayan was very withdrawn and reluctant to take part in all the activities at the club, preferring to work one to one with an adult. Over time she has made lots of friends and we have seen a real increase in her confidence and participation. Last summer she joined us on our weekend residential, two family trips to the beach and farm and 6 other trips and workshops. If it wasn’t for the Love to Learn summer programme Ayan and her siblings would struggle to take part in activities.
During the lockdown all the Homework Club young people have received deliveries of resources, games and art packs to keep them busy at home. They have been taking part in our weekly Zoom ‘Corona Club’, as well as small support groups for older young people. We have been providing weekly calls to all the families to support them emotionally as well as practically when needed, for example with food bank referrals.
Hamid and Club
Hamid is one of 10 children living with his parents in an overcrowded, 2-bed flat, on a local estate in Battersea. His parents escaped the war in Somalia, but have struggled to adapt to life in London. Hamid is a bright young boy and been coming to Club for a number of years. He loves reading, maths, art and music. We support him at Club to be more of himself and the best he possibly can. Last week Hamid’s support volunteer bought him a copy of The Hobbit. When he got it he said ‘when my family is watching TV I’m going to go under my bed and read it’. He’s nearly finished it.
The holidays are difficult for Hamid as his parents have very little money or time. Holidays are often spent in doors, at home, with very little to do. However, this summer Hamid is really looking forward to trips to Brighton and central London, a local farm, the Science Museum, Holland Park Opera, and a camping trip, plus lots of daily activities including a textiles day, skateboarding and more. ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait for school to finish and I can be at Club’. We provide food, a safe caring space and fun opportunities. We need your support to make this happen.
Yasmin, 15, joined our GCSE Study Group in January 2019. She had only just arrived in the UK from Somalia and had never had any formal education before starting school in Battersea. Yasmin has really thrived in our GCSE000 Study Group both academically, as well as socially, where she’d made new friends who support and encourage her. She lives with her large family, in overcrowded housing, who struggle financially. Last summer Yasmin joined us on our three night residential. The first time ever that she’d been away on holiday. She also joined us for a trip to the beach (she has never been in the sea), visited a local farm and took part in workshops. She also volunteered with our younger groups. She’s told us before that, “I am so excited and a bit scared because I don’t know anything about things to do in London and I never left my area”.
Salam and Club
Salam is 10 years old. She’s been raised by her mum, who escaped from Eritrea and came to Battersea in 2009 as a refugee. They live on the breadline and struggle. But you wouldn’t necessary know that the first time you meet them. Mother and daughter are warm and friendly and always very grateful for the help and support we provide.
Salam loves music and is confident and bright. She adores coming to Club as she says, ‘It’s fun, I get to do my homework and I can see my friends’. Her mum can’t help much with her homework as she has minimal education herself. We recently supported Salam to choose her secondary school. When asked about her recent SATs she remarked nonchalantly, ‘oh, they were easy’. As a result, and with our help, she’s secured a scholarship to a local independent school and can’t wait to start in September. She just needs to get through the summer and that’s where our summer programme comes in.
Halima joined Love to Learn in January 2019. She had only just arrived in the UK from Somalia 6 months prior, and had never had any formal education before starting school in the UK. When she started school Halima was very shy and spoke no English. She struggled to make friends and felt isolated. However, she quickly made friends and with the support of the school staff her English quickly improved, as did her confidence.
She has really thrived at our GCSE Study Group and made great friends who support and encourage her. Every week she works with the same volunteer, who is also a teacher. Halima lives with her large family, in overcrowded housing, who struggle financially. Last summer Halima joined us on many of our summer activities, including a three night activity residential, two trips to Brighton beach (she has never been in the sea), a large farm in Sussex, art and drama workshops and she also volunteered with our younger groups. “I was so excited and a bit scared going to the trips because I don’t know anything about things to do in London and I never left my area, but I had the best summer of my life and now I have so many friends”
To ensure we can make this a summer one to remember, for the children and young people we work with, please make a donation and see it doubled at https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a051r00001WVC1cAAH (donate between 23-30 June)
To find out more about our Love to Learn education team please visit: www.klsettlement.org.uk/love-to-learn/
If you’d like to volunteer and get involved then contact Paula Robertson, Head of Love to Learn, on [email protected] and 020 7585 0339