Posted: 17 June 2020

Seeking Hope: zine explores experiences of young people who migrate to the UK

This Refugee Week, the theme is 'imagine'. To help you imagine what it's like for unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in the UK, our Hope service group have created a zine that explores the experiences of those who migrate to the UK.

They planned to launch the zine at an event but the outbreak of Covid-19 has meant they had to change plans. Dr Caitlin Nunn, the researcher who facilitated the project, asked them about the current situation and the zine:

How are you finding lockdown?

'The situation I was in before [not having status and not working or studying], it’s the same situation everyone’s in right now. They get to feel what it’s like to have your freedom and choices taken away from you. I’m used to being at home...but it’s important for safety.'

'I am playing games and cooking and cleaning and being in the back garden in the nice weather. But it’s very difficult to learn online, to be without your friends. You feel bored doing your schoolwork without people to talk to. And it’s hard if you need help, if you don’t understand something. It’s not the same as speaking face to face.'

Why did you create this zine?

‘We wanted to give people an idea of what is going on’ [for young people who migrate as unaccompanied/separated asylum seekers].

‘Because some people, they need to understand what the asylum experience is like. Some people don’t know what our lives are like. The zine will show them.’

How was the zine created?

‘Everyone has a different situation. Everyone has something difficult, some issues, problems. We made the zine to include those different issues. We chose the words and pictures to express ourselves.’

‘We took photographs, we wrote about our experiences, we invited people (e.g. a social work lecturer) to come and talk to us, and we had discussions.’

What is the most important issue in the zine for you personally?

‘For me, the most important issue – because I’m young and I want a good future, I choose education. It’s everything. It’s your life. It’s for your future. Some people can’t go to university. It’s very difficult for them.’

Another young person agrees. ‘When you go to school you have a routine. If you don’t go to school you have nothing to do, nothing to care about. You can’t plan for the future.’

What do you hope the zine will achieve?

‘When they read the zine, people must think about it and then talk with the people who have power to do something about the issues. And they can try to help if they can.’

We hope it will ‘get the reader to understand what people go through. I’m not sure if it can make a difference – it’s up to the individual who reads it, what they do with it.’

‘I hope readers learn about [young people seeking asylum]. And if they can help them, that’s really good. Social workers should read it too. If they see it maybe they will make some changes.’

What advice would you give to young people arriving in the UK as unaccompanied/separated asylum seekers?

‘The first thing is to be patient. It’s a new life for you – like you’re born again – everything is new for you. You must try to learn. Don’t be scared if you make a mistake, like with language. Making mistakes helps you to learn.’

Another young person says, ‘join a group. Some people are scared and don’t talk. When I came I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what the rules looked like. No one asked me about anything.’

‘Just hope for the best. It’s not easy. Be yourself, be positive.’ 

READ THE ZINE: SEEKING HOPE

The project was a collaboration between The Children's Society and Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, Manchester Metropolitan university.

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