Reflecting realities, preparing new professionals

Karen Morris sharing her collection of refugee-themed picturebooks at the AfR conference, 2017

Karen Morris writes

In schools and other settings, our graduates play a significant role in the lives of pupils and encounter personal, ethical and moral dilemmas which are often unconnected with the taught curriculum. They need to be able to draw on a teaching philosophy that is distinctive and personally informed but reflects ethical values and principles. Such a philosophy needs to be responsive to the demands of a changing world where social, political, economic and environmental issues have a significant impact on the lives of children and young people. As a primary English tutor this is a key part of my role in preparing future professionals. Continue reading

RefuAid seminar results in action for refugees

Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, at the Action for Refugees seminar at Edge Hill University.

Delegates to the RefuAid seminar held at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk campus on 20 March were enthralled by the presentations, not least by the moving testimony given by former client Naima, who told us about her former life in Libya and the role played by RefuAid in turning her life around. RefuAid co-founder, Anna Jones, explained how the organisation provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in key areas of access to language support, education and employment.

Dentist and former RefuAid client Naima shared her powerful story with us.

The audience for the seminar included academic and support staff at EHU as well as visitors from the local community. It was particularly pleasing to welcome a number of refugees and asylum seekers on campus.

Immediately following the presentations, delegates were able to engage in discussion with both the RefuAid representatives and Action for Refugees group members. Much of this discussion concerned the practical support that delegates from our refugee community wanted from RefuAid and from Edge Hill University.

Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive with many delegates taking the time to thank the presenters personally for the seminar. One email received from a delegate since the event included the following, “I’m so pleased to be at the university and thank you for the help you have given me.”

Since the event, applications for support from RefuAid have been prepared by some delegates with the help of Action for Refugees group members. Referrals have also been made to other organisations with a view to providing expert support for individuals to gain employment. Plans for future working between RefuAid and the University are being put in place. Action for Refugees is keen that the knowledge exchanged at this event will provide a basis for a fruitful partnership with RefuAid that will reflects principles of inclusivity, equity, and social justice.

Left to right: Naima and Anna (RefuAid), Malik (Syrian Cultural Centre), Kate (RefuAid), Mike (EHU)

 

Migrants and Refugees in Education: A toolkit for teachers

Learn how to teach and support young people across the globe affected by violence, conflict or displacement.
This free, online course developed by the British Council is designed to help teachers support students who are dealing with trauma.
Experienced teachers talk about the challenges, what they have learnt and the strategies they have used when teaching migrant and refugee learners both in countries affected by conflict and in host countries. All teachers and volunteers working with refugees and migrant learners can find ideas and strategies that can be used to better understand learners. The course helps to build inclusive classrooms and develop learners’ confidence, taking into account the languages they know and their cultures.
Click here to find out more.

Community links: supporting refugees in West Lancs

Lawrence Smye Rumsby works as a caseworker supporting refugees in Skelmersdale. Formerly a primary headteacher, he is officially ‘retired’!  Lawrence also plays a key part in ‘Skem International’, a voluntary group formed of members of the community including refugees. Action for Refugees’ links with local groups ensure we are in touch with refugees placed in our community. This is important to make sure that our work reflects their interests and needs.

Lawrence writes:

I started my caseworker contract officially on 1st August of last year, but had been volunteering in a similar role for over two years. My contract with the Council Voluntary Services (CVS) covers 4.5 hours casework with related admin, each week, but there is always more demand than this. In Skelmersdale, two regular weekly events for refugees, Wednesdays (4-6pm in the Ecumenical Centre) and on Fridays (2.30 to 4.30pm in the library) offer an opportunity for contacting me. Both buildings are very central and easily reached by all asylum seekers and refugees, which is important when most don’t have a car or the funds for public transport. Asylum seekers receive approx £35 per week from the government which has to cover everything except housing.

In the first three months I was employed, I dealt with 166 meetings, with 67 separate refugees, from Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Angola, Sudanese, Eritrean, Syria, Jamaica, Burundi, Afghanistan, Turky, Libya, Egypt, Russia & Morocco. Most of those coming to these meetings are young men, reflecting the population in Skelmersdale. I work with volunteers from the community in Skelmersdale to provide a range of support, with funding from the Red Cross to help with volunteers’ expenses. 

There are a wide range of issues raised at meetings. Refugees waiting for a decision on their leave to remain might need help with dealing with the Home Office, for example finding a solicitor, accessing benefits or responding to mail. Continue reading

Women’s Day 2019: Debate, educate and dance

Women refugees can be especially vulnerable. Marking Women’s Day, fundraising, education and dance events are taking place to support work for displaced women. 

Today, UN High Commission for Refugees are fundraising to support more projects like the ‘Women’s Committee of the Future’. Based in Turkey, where over 3 million Syrian refugees were living in 2016, the Urban Refugee Women’s Network, with UNHCR support, developed a support group for women coming together over tea. Continue reading

Manchester Event: ‘Offering linguistic hospitality’ an Arabic language workshop

Organised by the University of Glasgow and the Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine), a workshop in Manchester, 8th March 2019, 2pm – 4pm at the Friends Meeting House.

This workshop will discuss the importance of giving a space to the languages of people seeking asylum and/or people who have refugee status. Showing respect and appreciation for home languages people bring with them can facilitate integration and promote wellbeing.  During the workshop the organisers will also offer a free Arabic language taster (for beginners) as an example of a refugee language that can be learnt to offer ‘linguistic hospitality’ and to move ‘towards’ someone in their home language. We will also give information on the Online Arabic from Palestine language course that was developed collaboratively by a team based at the University of Glasgow (within the UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts) and at the Arabic Center of the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine.

Tea and coffee will be available. The workshop is free of charge, but places will be limited, so booking is essential. More information is available here: Workshop_Flier-Manchester

To reserve a place, please write by the 6th of March to: Nihaya.Jaber@glasgow.ac.uk.