Provide an affordable childcare service for parents while they work or study and offer training and employment opportunities
by Mariam Tahir in London, Greater London, United Kingdom
My name is Mariam Tahir I am originally from Chad. I came to the UK in 2018 with my 2 children and pregnant with my third child. When I arrived I applied for asylum and I was kept in a hostel with my kids for 5 difficult months.
During my asylum process I went through two stages. At first we were in a hostel living in one bedroom with my kids. As an asylum seeker you are not allowed to work or have access to public funds and therefore you don’t have the money or the facilities to cook your own meals.
So whenever I wanted to go out to pick up our pre-prepared meals, I had to wait in a long queue pregnant and with my 2 little ones.
It was very difficult for me to live in that situation where the kids are not allowed to leave the room and we are new in a country with a new language and new culture. Without facilities to help look after and care for children when in this position, it’s very difficult to progress in the language and customs of the new country and it’s easy to become isolated and dispirited. From my experience, these 5 months could have been much more productive and useful in preparing me for my new life in the UK once my refugee status was granted.
For me, the only way I was able to manage my mental health was to go out with my children and meet with charities to take advantage of some of the English classes they provided. During that stressful time I gave birth to my new child.
After these 5 months we then moved to shared accommodation in the second stage of the asylum process, again to stay in one bedroom with a shared kitchen and bathroom with 3 other families. At this time I tried to engage more with other charities to help me find somewhere to study, which led me to a mentoring programme which helped me apply to university and secure a scholarship to study my masters degree. This was the best thing that happened to me during this time but finding someone to look after my kids was the most difficult part.
I think it’s clear from my own experience of seeking asylum in the UK, shared by many others, that we can improve the chances of a family to integrate faster, if parents have real opportunities and time to engage with the community around them. To do so, they need to be happy with the knowledge that there is somewhere safe for their children to be looked after.
As a result, I decided to start Coffee with Kids. We are a registered Social Enterprise CIC, and are a community coffee shop for refugees and low-income parents, supporting them and their children by providing an affordable childcare service on site, so that the parents can work or study in the cafe at the same time.
When you spend all your time looking after your children, it is very hard to build a social network and make new friends. We will provide a space so that refugee and asylum seeking parents feel integrated into their community, through building a social network by meeting new people at the community cafe whilst their children are being looked after
From my own experience, I know that there were so many problems for me when it came to childcare. I could not find anywhere that I could afford to look after my children, so I could focus on my studies and work.
For Refugees, Asylum Seekers and low income parents, there is a lack of:
Coffee with kids wants to solve this problem by providing a coffee shop that deals with the childcare issue by providing:
At coffee with kids, we are entirely different and unique, providing a brand new service because we address the needs, problems and desires of refugees , asylum seekers and low income parents.
We are providing
Many asylum seekers and refugees have a lot of qualifications and they did not choose to leave their countries, they had no choice. By provide opportunities of employment and volunteering, so that people can redefine themselves in Britain after starting a new life and so that they can regain some confidence that they might have lost.
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