Each August we run a summer school, with language and skills sessions designed to minimise social isolation, improve English and help young people prepare for the new academic year.
When we started planning Summer School 2021, we knew that we wanted to give the young people we support a real ‘holiday’ experience. We understand how challenging the long summer break can be for displaced young people, increasing their sense of isolation and loneliness. We wanted to counter this, providing the opportunity to fill the holidays learning new things, having fun and building relationships.
We spent the first week at GASP Motor Project, learning the basics of mechanics through hands-on workshops with the wonderful team there. Our days were split between more formal English lessons in the classroom and practical sessions in the garage where we applied the terms and phrases we’d just studied. By the end of the week, the young people achieved multiple AQA Qualifications, and we left with more than a few aspiring mechanics.
The second week focused on wellbeing and adapting to life in the UK. We began with a scavenger hunt around London (this was the first time in the capital for most participants). We hosted two wellbeing days with the Refugee Council, supporting young people to develop coping mechanisms for issues such as anxiety and insomnia.
We also spent a brilliant day at Surrey University with Surrey Police, Lawyers Against Poverty and the High Sheriff of Surrey. Many of the young people we support have a deep fear of the police, borne from their experiences back home and during their journeys to reach the UK and this is compounded by a poor understanding of the UK legal system. We wanted to change this… to build their trust in the police and their understanding of UK law and this day was the perfect opportunity for young people to meet police officers and lawyers in an informal setting and ask any questions they had.
“Often police think you are an animal which they can kick and force. But the police here were friendly to us, like we were equal to them… like we are people like them. I’ve never seen this before. I really liked them, and it makes me feel safer here.” M
Summer School finished with a day with Access Adventures where we paddle boarded, canoed, swam, banana boated, danced and barbecued. It was a wonderful two weeks, and the feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. We were blown away by the huge improvement we saw in their language skills, their understanding of UK life and their enthusiasm for what they might achieve here.
The generosity of everyone who donated to our Crowdfunding campaign made this programme possible, and we can’t thank you enough.