Shpresa Programme is a user led charity, founded in 2002 with the mission to provide help and assistance to the Albanian speaking community in UK, promote and facilitate integration and settlement in the wider community. Most of the community members were newly arrival at the time, having fled war, ethnic cleansing and suffered lots of trauma and upheaval. Throughout the years Shpresa Programme has been recognised for the work done and received many awards such as Queen’s Award for Volunteering in 2004, Special Distinction from NRCSE for supplementary education, Gold award for excellence in Youth work provision, Communities of Health award and many more. Our CEO has received an Honorary Award as Migrant and Refugee Woman of the year in 2012, the David Crystal Award from the Chartered Institute of Linguists in 2014 in recognition of her work with Shpresa Programme fostering the study of community languages, the Ambassador For Peace from Universal Peace federation December 2016 and recently May 2017 the UK Foreign Social Entrepreneur Award from Money Gram.
Unfortunately, members of the Albanian speaking community continue to flee their countries even to date, although now most people seeking sanctuary in UK come from Albania, are of a very young age and suffer a different form of violence.
Albanian children are fleeing trafficking, violence and blood feuds, a post-communist phenomenon that draws on medieval Kanun law and demands revenge killings to salvage family honour. While the Home Office claims these feuds are “few and in sharp decline” the European parliament reports rising numbers. Even the Albanian parliament admits that its efforts to prevent blood feuds have not succeeded.
The result is boys marked out to be killed when they reach 16. (https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/esme-madill/albanian-blood-feuds-shpresa-asylum)
In 2016/17, Albanians constituted the highest number of nationals identified as potential victims of trafficking in the UK (NRM, 2017). This has continued in the following years, quarter 3 of 2018 saw a 17% increase from the previous quarter on the number of potential victims submitted to National Referral Mechanism from Albanian Nationals compared to 6% increase from all nationals in the report (NRM, Q3, 2018)
46% of the Albanian Speaking Women accessing Shpresa's Domestic Violence work have been trafficked, 95% of these for sexual exploitation.
Shpresa works with Albanian speaking children and young people (CYP) and women facing domestic violence and many other issues who are refugees and asylum-seekers.
These UASC and women facing DV are disadvantaged due to:
1) Traumatic experiences which led to them fleeing their homeland, including: being trafficked for labour or sexual exploitation; being the victim of a blood feud which can result in CYP watching family members being beaten or killed or being attacked and at risk of death themselves; being subjected to violence/abuse as a result of their sexuality or being victims of domestic violence/abuse or forced marriages. Many lived in situations of extreme poverty, deprivation and exploitation.
Being forced in marriage by their families due to poverty or as a result of cultural mentality. Women fear for their family’s reputation and honour and suffer in silence to avoid “causing honour-based violence”. They suffer physical, psychological and sexual abuse, rape, forced prostitution, trafficking and coercive control from (ex) husbands/partners, traffickers and other family members.
2) A hostile environment in the UK where refugees/asylum-seeking CYP live with foster carers or in hostels and experience racism, discrimination and hostility, while women facing DV are forced to live with their perpetrators or traffickers.
3) Vulnerability to exploitation or re-trafficking
4) Lack of information about their rights, specifically relating to immigration
5) A lengthy period of stress and insecurity while they wait (sometimes for years) for the outcome of their asylum application.
6) Lack of appropriate health care, especially mental health care/treatment
8) Significant delays accessing education
9) Separation from family/friends and a strong sense of loss.
Shpresa Programme in partnership with other providers have delivered very important work to prevent further abuse and assist in improving the lives of these groups of refuges and asylum seekers.