We want to work with young people in Mitcham who are facing challenges not only as newly arrived, sometimes unaccompanied minors but also those who have English as a second language and those young people who are finding it difficult to acclimatise back into school after the various lockdowns.
Young people have lost confidence in interacting with others having been isolated and away from school and need their social skills boosting.
Above all, young people need to have fun. To be reminded how to play and how to laugh with friends.
Those young people who are unfamiliar with life in the UK need to make friends from a variety of backgrounds and we need to encourage this cohesion across the diverse backgrounds of our youth in London today; helping them to build a network of peers, exploring both how they are different and yet still, essentially the same. Some of them have experienced trauma and are separated from their family - we want to help build them a new family and show them how great life can be!
We will run a series of integration workshops over school enrichment days as a pilot scheme to explore how this model can be rolled out. Working with 20 young students from St Mark's Academy Mitcham we will use stories, games and drama to bring people together from a variety of countries to share stories and traditions and identify common ground so as to build a new community. We will set them tasks to build teamwork and tolerance and these will extend beyond the sessions so that their interaction and friendship is sustained over the longer term.
We have a wealth of experience of working with young people to improve their life chances and to support the integration of young people, particularly those from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds who have little experience of life in the UK. We have been producing this kind of work for nearly 20 years and this new project will combine our work with EAL students and those young people from low income and deprived areas.
We have been asked to deliver this work as teachers and carers have noticed that young people are struggling to acclimatise back into school. Those students who cannot speak or understand English well are being further isolated from UK born students. This leads to segregation, isolation and on to anxiety and depression. By bringing these young people together we hope to boost their aspirations and allow them to feel positive about their futures, knowing that they can mix with people, make friends and have a positive contribution on society.