Posted: 06 February 2013

Young refugees share their stories

I work at HEARTS (Help Every Asylum seeker and Refugee To Settle), a project based at our LEAP programme in Leeds. We help young people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds settle, and feel welcome, included and integrated in their new lives in Leeds.

We also really enjoy raising awareness about the lives of these brave young refugees. So when the West Yorkshire Playhouse approached us in October and proposed working collaboratively to deliver events to run alongside their new play, Refugee Boy, we said ‘Yes!’

Based on Benjamin Zephaniah's novel, Refugee Boy is a powerful story about a young boy and his journey from Eritrea to the UK, where he goes into the care system. The playhouse was keen to run programmes to raise awareness of the play in schools and at community groups.

With the help and guidance of a group of young refugees we support, we created a session that addresses aspects of a young refugee’s experience.

Sharing young people's opinions

The young people were keen on creating an audio tool for the sessions. For over eight weeks, we worked together to form ideas for what should be in the audio recordings. The young people chose the stories they wanted to share.

In late January, we worked with a company in Sheffield, Aspire Creative, to create recordings of five young people’s stories.

The result is a powerful collection of stories about young refugees’ experiences, such as why they came to the UK, what has journey like, and how has life in the UK been. These recordings capture many aspects of their life in the UK – some good, some heartbreaking.

Please listen to the young people’s stories about why they left their home country - this is just one of the stories we'll present for the first time today at a school here in Leeds.

Hamid's story and upcoming events

In addition to the young people’s stories, our session also features Hamid's story, an animated documentary exploring why 10-year-old Hamid had to flee his home country and how he has found life in the UK.

Hamid attended a group work programme delivered by the HEARTS programme and then we worked with him to support him to be involved in animation about his experience of seeking refuge.

On 28 February we will work with the Leeds City of Sanctuary team to deliver a training session aimed at education professionals. This session will provide information and guidance on how to raise awareness, promote positive attitudes and instil models of safety and inclusion in school settings. 

While working with young people and adults, we are honoured to be part of this enriching, meaningful and sustainable approach to improving the experiences and lives of young refugees.

Please listen to the young people’s stories about why they left their home country - this is just one of the stories we'll present for the first time today at a school here in Leeds.

Refugee Boy and young people's stories

The West Yorkshire Playhouse's production of Refugee Boy runs from 9-30 March, and will tour afterwards. Find out more about Refugee Boy.

The Children's Society HEARTS project have been involved as a partner in developing an online educational resource pack produced by the West Yorkshire Playhouse to run alongside their production.

Listen to young people's stories about why they left their home country.

Please watch Hamid's Story:

By Nola Pugh - Programme staff

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I really enjoyed the article and clip, it was fantastic to know how guys are helping people who are refugees, well done and keep going on. I really appreciate it. I am also once a refugee and I am delighted to hear all those.