Social Integration for Asylum-seeking Young People: The Surviving To Thriving Project

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    • 00:11


    • 00:18

      KALYANI MCCARTHY: My name is Kalyani McCarthy.And I'm the project manager for a projectcalled Surviving to Thriving at the British Red Cross.The Surviving to Thriving Projectis a partnership between the British Red Cross, RefugeeCouncil, and Uprising.And collectively, we've come togetherto offer a holistic range of servicesto unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.And this includes casework, mental health support,

    • 00:39

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: as well as leadership opportunities.And we also offer professional training, particularlyfor social workers.Sadly, all of the children that we support on the Survivingto Thriving Project have either been lost or separatedfrom their family.And there are very few safe and legal routes for childrento actually reach the UK to claim asylum.And therefore they've all faced a very dangerous and often very

    • 01:02

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: lengthy journeys to get here in order to reach safety.The young people that we've worked withcome from a huge range of countries.And there are many different reasons why they're fleeing.It's really important therefore as a social workerto be aware of this and be able to supportthese children in a way that is trauma informedand not to retraumatize them, particularly

    • 01:22

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: for example with age assessments,as well as to help them to access the specialistservices that they need.The asylum process itself is inherently complexand can be very confusing for the young peoplegoing through it as well as often for the professionalstrying to support them.We hear repeatedly from young people that they're anxious,

    • 01:46

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: and confused, and feel that their life's put on holdwhilst they're waiting for an asylum decision.And sadly, self-harm and suicidal thoughtsare often very closely connected to the stage of the asylumprocess, including appeal hearingsand getting a negative decision from the home office.And it's something that they say is constantly with them.

    • 02:07

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: And it's not something that they can escape from.It's a constant source of anxiety.

    • 02:20

      SPEAKER 1: I am 18 years old.And I have been living in UK for one year.Before I came, I thought it is easy, but it wasn't.You have to wait and everything.And yeah.I have been one year.

    • 02:42

      SPEAKER 1 [continued]: And I am still waiting.It is not good to be wait for a long time.And you will not know where it will be.

    • 02:60

      SPEAKER 2: Who here is volunteering?Does anybody do any volunteering?Say what volunteering do you do.You can just say one word.You don't have to talk about.

    • 03:12


    • 03:14

      SPEAKER 2: OK.

    • 03:14

      KALYANI MCCARTHY: A social workerhas an absolutely fundamental rolein an unaccompanied child's experience of the UKand their ability to settle and move on with their lives.Treating the child as a child rather thana migrant without prejudice or disbeliefcan make the difference between feeling welcomed and safe hereand feeling like an outsider with no hope

    • 03:38

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: as well as understanding and supportingthem to access the services that they needcan make an enormous impact on their lives here.

    • 03:46

      SPEAKER 2: Different areas in [INAUDIBLE]..They include sports related activities.So you could do football, different other types of sport,sports related activities that would--that they try to help you develop skills.So if anyone does want to get involved with them,

    • 04:09

      SPEAKER 2 [continued]: let me know.And I can help you do an applicationif that's what you need or Fiza can help or Harriet.

    • 04:16

      AOIFE KELLY: My name is Aoife.And I am the project coordinator for Surviving to Thrivingat the British Red Cross in Birmingham.At the Red Cross, we run fortnightly youth groupsessions that aim to teach the young people accessingthe project their rights and entitlements in the UK.

    • 04:38

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: We also offer sessions based on art,and theater, and other sessions thatpromote inclusion and promote positive wellbeingfor the young asylum seeking people.And for example, some of the rights and entitlements

    • 04:58

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: based sessions includes a session on the asylum process,on access to education, access to health care,and employability skills.Treating young people on our projectsas children first and migrant secondis a vital component of our projects.

    • 05:21

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: We try to facilitate a space where young people can attendand feel confident that they will not be scrutinizedon their age, gender, journey to the UK,or experiences in the UK.We try to incorporate fun and community into the groups.

    • 05:43

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: And we give the opportunity to the young people attendingthe groups to really own their role within the groupsthrough them taking leads with ice breakers and gamesand giving them the opportunity to beyouth leaders within the group sessions.

    • 06:04

      SPEAKER 2: Aoife.That's my name as well.So for example, if your name is Dan, you're Dr. Dan.Also that farmer Fizer or something like that.And we're going to go around the circleuntil we all run out of ideas.Does that sound OK with everyone?Yeah?

    • 06:23

      AOIFE KELLY: Yes.

    • 06:24

      SPEAKER 2: Shall we--I'll start.So, yeah, [INAUDIBLE]

    • 06:30

      AOIFE KELLY: Receptionist.

    • 06:31

      SPEAKER 2: Yeah.

    • 06:33

      SPEAKER 4: I'll say--oh, it's on you.

    • 06:36

      SPEAKER 5: Speech.[INAUDIBLE]

    • 06:37

      SPEAKER 4: OK.You said art.I'll say artist.I'll [INAUDIBLE] artist.

    • 06:45

      SPEAKER 2: Fashion designer.Eliza?

    • 06:48

      AOIFE KELLY: The aim of the group sessionsis primarily to reduce isolation and promote wellbeing amongst the young asylum-seeking people.That is the kind of atmosphere wetry to create within the group setting.During the groups, we teach and inform the young people

    • 07:12

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: about their rights and entitlements within the UK.While they are navigating the complicatedsystem of the asylum process, as well as living in a new countryand learning a new language, we believethat it's really important and empowering for the young people

    • 07:35

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: to have as much information as they canabout the laws and the processes thatdo dictate such a large part of their lives.

    • 07:49

      SPEAKER 6: I used to come once a week--Surviving to Thriving.And it's helpful.You're making friends, and play games,and build your confidence.I learn many things and, specially,

    • 08:12

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: what is my rights in UK.And it was important.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 08:22

      AOIFE KELLY: The advantages of group workis that it gives the young, unaccompanied, asylum-seekingchildren the opportunity to meet other people whoare from all over the world but have the same thing in commonas them in terms of navigating a new countryand going through a very difficult system.

    • 08:43

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: The consistency of the groups, and the factthat they run to a very standard schedule,and it's the same every session, provides consistencyand a feeling that the young peoplecan understand, and expect, and know what will be going on.

    • 09:07

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: The group facilitates trust.And having a frequent point of contactbetween the young people, and myself,and other members of staff and volunteers at the Red Crossmeans that they are able to trust us and open upto us about issues that they may be facing, whether it's

    • 09:28

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: at school, with their foster placements,or accessing universal credit or benefits.The frequent point of contact between them and usmeans that they can build a relationship with usand know that we will try to help them as best we can

    • 09:48

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: or assign post different organizations that can helpthem with their specific needs.

    • 09:56

      SPEAKER 6: My social service and my foster care--they are helpful.They help me with everything, especially my foster carebecause she is close to me.We live together.And she help me with everything--how to live in UK, and with education, and everything

    • 10:16

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: with DP, everything.And my social service, she visits me every four weeks.And she's making sure I'm safe and I feel safe.

    • 10:33

      AOIFE KELLY: And other places, organizations,that you can go to, to help you look for a job,if that's something you want to do now or in the future.You're going to do some interview skills.Interview is difficult actually.They're not easy because they require a lot of preparation.What else would you--

    • 10:53

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: do you think you would want to talk about if youwanted a job in a coffee shop?So OK making coffee or--

    • 10:60

      SPEAKER 2: Because you're going to be serving peopleso you have to be able to chat to people, and your customerservice skills, and things like that.

    • 11:10

      AOIFE KELLY: Is there anything elsethat you think they would look for?So what do you think you could say to someone to let them knowthat you are a good cleaner?Unaccompanied, asylum-seeking children heavilyrely on the local authorities in orderto act in their interest in terms of their asylum claim.

    • 11:33

      KALYANI MCCARTHY: I cannot emphasize enough the importanceof referring children to good quality legal advice as soonas they arrived in the UK.The asylum process is extremely complicated.And having legal representation early on canmake the difference between a lengthy, complicated, andprobably negative outcome of an asylum claim

    • 11:53

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: or having a decision quicker and not having that drawn outand enabling them to integrate and to move onwith their lives in the UK.Understanding the reputable legal aid firms in your areaand being able to refer quickly when neededis absolutely essential in your role.

    • 12:14

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: It's not realistic to expect all social workers to becomeexperts in the asylum process.However, having a basic understanding of the asylumprocess and where to refer to for that specialist supportis absolutely essential.For example, understanding that beinggranted UASC leave for children is actually only temporary.

    • 12:35

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: And not resolving that at the timecan have a detrimental impact once they become young adults.We see this time and time again, that children aren't supportedto appeal that refusal.And it has awful consequences.Also, just having a basic understanding of their rightsand entitlements for services like education and health care.

    • 12:57

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: It's vital to have an understanding of boththat their practical support needsand their rights and entitlements in whichevercountry you're working in, as well as the way that yousupport them, without prejudice in a child-friendlyand trauma informed way that's going to make them feel safe,and stable, and move on with their lives.

    • 13:19

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: For example, if you have concernsabout a child who may have been trafficked to the UK,you can contact the Child Trafficking Advice Centerat the NSPCC.Equally, if you are unsure about entitlementsto university for asylum seekers,you can contact Refugee Support Network.You have an advice line for that purpose.And Coram Children's Legal Centerhave a specialist project for migrant children

    • 13:40

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: and an excellent range of resourcesonline that you can access and also contact them directlyfor advice.

    • 13:48

      AOIFE KELLY: Yeah.OK, we're going to do an example of a very quick interview thatisn't very good.And then, we can ask you guys to get into two.So you'll be in two's.And we want you to do a short-- it doesn't have to be long--but a short example of an interview that's really good.

    • 14:13

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: So on time, smart, and you think you have good skillsyou can share.And then, a couple of people will come and show uswhat they have done.And then, volunteers, if you can try and help out.So should we do an example now.

    • 14:33

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: Or should we--

    • 14:34

      SPEAKER 2: Yeah.Should I go outside?

    • 14:38


    • 14:46

      SPEAKER 2: Hello.

    • 14:47

      AOIFE KELLY: Hello.Are you [INAUDIBLE]?

    • 14:50

      SPEAKER 2: Yeah, that's my name.

    • 14:51

      AOIFE KELLY: Nice to meet you.OK.Would you like to take a seat?

    • 14:59

      SPEAKER 2: Oh, no.I'm all right standing.[LAUGHTER]

    • 15:04

      AOIFE KELLY: What's really positive about the groupsis that we have a regular attendance from peoplewho have been attending the groups often for over a year,since when the project started.In the time that I've been working with the young people,I have seen an incredible growth in confidence,

    • 15:26

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: in ability to express themselves,in their freedom of expressing themselves to each other,and to share their problems with other young peopleat the group, and myself, and other volunteers.Yeah, come on.It can be really quick.And then--

    • 15:47

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: [APPLAUSE]

    • 15:53

      SPEAKER 7: What skill do you have?

    • 15:55

      SPEAKER 8: I don't have any skill at the moment but--

    • 15:59

      AOIFE KELLY: There are examples of fantastic social workerswho have regular contacts with the young peoplethat they're working with--who clearly explain, and go through the processeswith the young people, and to allow the young people to feel

    • 16:21

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: informed and knowledgeable about the effects of the system,and the effects that the processes they're going throughhas on their lives.

    • 16:31

      SPEAKER 9: Because he's been asked to work a lot of hours,but the pay is so small.And that's not the minimum wage anyone can be paid.So be careful when going for interview,think twice if you're being offered minimum wageand you're being asked to work so many hours.

    • 16:52

      SPEAKER 9 [continued]: So well done.You've picked a very useful information.

    • 16:56

      AOIFE KELLY: Sometimes, I have also seen examples of timeswhere social workers might be too overstretched.They may live in different areas and notbe able to fulfill the large amount of supportthat the young people need from them.

    • 17:16

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: Unfortunately, when the young peoplefeel that they are not receiving the support that they need,it can have a negative effect on the self-esteem and well being.There are young people who have effectively removed themselvesfrom the care of their local authority

    • 17:38

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: or disappeared after they have not felt supportedby their social worker.They have maybe seen the support that their peers are receivingand realize that they're not gettingthat face-to-face contact and support.And therefore, they have given up on their relationship

    • 18:01

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: with their social worker.This potentially can have huge repercussions in their livesnow in terms of looking for support when they'revulnerable from somebody else who may want to take advantageor, alternatively, finding support through alcohol

    • 18:23

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: or drug addiction.[MUSIC PLAYING]The role of a social worker is vital in society.And the impact that a positive and good social worker can haveon young people is limitless.

    • 18:44

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: Personally, I have seen the fantastic effectsthat social workers can have on young people whohave been through trauma and unimaginable situations.Finding that support within the local authoritycan enable them to use those experiences to create

    • 19:08

      AOIFE KELLY [continued]: a positive future for themselves and for other peoplethat they meet in life.

    • 19:15

      KALYANI MCCARTHY: As professionals, we'rekeenly aware of the competing demands and capacitylimitations on social workers.And it's something that the young people have actuallytold us themselves that they understand that you'retrying to support a huge number of children with limited time.But by doing some of these very simple things--accessing legal advice at the right time,

    • 19:35

      KALYANI MCCARTHY [continued]: treating the young person as a child rather than a migrant--can make all the difference of their experience in the UKand their ability to progress as childrenwho've lost their families.[MUSIC PLAYING][APPLAUSE]

Social Integration for Asylum-seeking Young People: The Surviving To Thriving Project

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The Surviving To Thriving project at the British Red Cross offers a holistic range of services to unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. Staff describe the services offered and the importance of the program.

SAGE Video In Practice
Social Integration for Asylum-seeking Young People: The Surviving To Thriving Project

The Surviving To Thriving project at the British Red Cross offers a holistic range of services to unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. Staff describe the services offered and the importance of the program.

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