Posted: 19 June 2019

Refugee Week 2019: working with young refugees to help them feel safe and included

Our story for Refugee Week comes from Robin, a practitioner in the refugee and migrant team at the Stratford Hub

We provide services across the country that help young refugees and migrants find accommodation, overcome language barriers and rebuild their lives in new communities. The work that Robin and other practitioners do is invaluable in helping these young people feel safe and included in society. 

When did you join The Children’s Society and what were you doing before?

I joined in September 2017. I originally trained as a teacher and taught English in sixth forms and secondary schools for a few years, but I decided I wanted to change careers after teaching with refugees and migrants for a while.

So I saved up and did a masters in migration and diaspora studies, and as I finished that I applied for the job with The Children’s Society.

What team do you work in and what is your role?

I’m a practitioner in the refugee and migrant team at the Stratford Hub. My role is to provide holistic case work support and advocacy for young migrants and refugees.

What are you are working on at the moment?

I have a caseload of 16 young people at the moment, which is about average. It’s very varied work! Some are making their way through the asylum system, some have refugee status, some have had applications and appeals refused, and a few arrived in the UK on visas as children.

I do all kinds of work to ensure that they are accessing the support that’s available to them, whether they’re in care, facing destitution or finding their way to living independently. I also support with the youth group and outings organised by my incredible colleagues.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Waiting is a big part of my young people’s lives. While we’re waiting (at the doctor’s, social services, the immigration reporting centre, for the bus or train, at the police station, in the immigration tribunal, on hold on the phone, etc.) we try to have fun. Being silly, playing a game or doodling cartoons and putting a smile on someone’s face is grounding, transformative and irreplaceable.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

I’m involved with a few groups campaigning against immigration controls. On Saturdays I distribute information about people’s rights in immigration raids in Newham, I record testimonies from people who are held in immigration detention with a group called ‘Detained Voices’.

I also organise with ‘End Deportations’, who are campaigning to stop deportation charter flights and all deportations, ultimately. Working to change (/abolish!) the system complements working with individuals and vice versa.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

There are so many people I know personally who I want to name here! But I’m going to go for Lemn Sissay, the writer. He was in foster care as a child, was abandoned by his foster parents age 12, launched his writing career as a teenager and tracked down his birth mother age 21. Now he speaks up for children in care, and his charity puts on a Christmas lunch for children in care that I’m going to send some of my young people to.


By Robin White

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