What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
All of the following issues were initially identified through discussions with beneficiaries, working professionals and then supported via access to academic research.
Young Refugee teens face unique barriers to achieving their potential
Refugees arriving in the UK are most often young males aged from 14 years old upwards, escaping war and conflict in their native countries. Whilst these young men would ordinarily be striving in education or employment, they face a number of unique difficulties following the traumatic events that led them there (Refugee Council UK, 2016).
Young refugees often arrive having left or lost all friends and family members, and enter new environments with few cultural connections to home. They may display poor grasp of the English language and subsequently struggle to integrate socially or access services (Fuze Beyond Borders, 2016).
This combined with the lengthy process involved in accessing appropriate documentation means young people are denied access to further education or employment, risking the decline of their talents, sense of purpose and self-worth. Subsequently there are some trends for refugees to fall into low-paid or illegal working circumstances; despite a journey to date proving their astute competencies, resilience and physical strength (Fernando Chang-Muy, J.D. 2015).
Socially excluded children and child refugees experience the “Summer Learning Effect” where they regress during holiday periods
Children experiencing social exclusion due to traumatic childhoods or poverty are often beginning their school life on the ‘back-foot,’ demonstrating lower levels of personal and social skills; education and levels of physical activity leading to poor health (Forry, N. D. et al, 2013).,
Whilst it is hoped all children will enter school and catch-up progress can be made during school times with additional support available; it has long been known that these children can then experience a significant decline and regress back during the long Summer holidays (Jesson, R. et al, 2014).
Generally for these children in their homes during the Summer, levels of physical activity decrease due to alack of access to facilities, causing child-hood obesity (Baranowski, T. et al, 2014). Key skills such as reading and behavioural management often regress, and focus on traumatic events increases due to a lack of engagement in structured activities. These factors decrease a child’s ‘enjoyment of life’ and increase isolation. (Loprinzi P. D. et al, 2012; Kim J.S. & Quinn, D. M. 2013)
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
- Social Exclusion is an increasing problem for children in the UK. 1.6 million school-aged children are those missing out on crucial developmental and educational activities, a problem that increases during school holidays.
- 1 in 20 children live in impoverished households, with 5% having no safe place to play. Allowing these children a safe, enriching environment when they would otherwise be in their home is crucial.
- ½ a million children cannot afford to eat properly, and 21% of unemployed people cannot afford appropriate clothing for a job interview. This makes these provisions essential for children and young refugees to have the health and confidence to pursue their potential.
All of the above are: National Centre for Social Research and Poverty and Social Exclusion Councils, 2013
Numbers of socially excluded children are set to increase. As of October 2016, and following the close of the Calais refugee Camp in France, there is expected to be a significant increase in the numbers of unaccompanied children coming to the UK eligible under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act 2016. (Amber Rudd MP, 2016)
- In 2015, 3253 children claimed asylum in the UK with 90% being young males of higher education or early working age, from war and conflict nations (Refugee Council, 2016) they are 80% more likely to get a job if they can show recent experience in a work environment (Deloitte, 2013) and this offers the key route to inclusion and social wellbeing.
- The Seaver Foundation Camps help to resolve this. In previous camps run by The Seaver Foundation, evidence showed that whilst 1 in 3 children living in social exclusion feel negative emotions such as anger and embarrassment towards their home-life, 85% of them felt positive about their Summer Camps, describing feeling ‘loved’ and ‘excited’ as the most popular emotions. There was significant developmental improvements noted in the children participating. (Seaver, 2016).
What is your solution?
The Seaver Foundation Summer Camp will offer resolutions to these issues for both parties. Young refugees (15 years +) will be trained to assist professional sports coaches; to run Summer Sports Camps for children (<14 years). The camp will be open to all children; to encourage integration; however a proportion of places will be reserved and granted free to children who are socially excluded or from refugee backgrounds. Pastoral care will be available and there will be a well structured; fun and empowering environment. All coaches will be trained to encourage children to value their voices and feel in control of their livelihoods.
Benefits for Young Coaches and refugees working on the Summer Camp
- Sport transcends language barriers, gives a sense of familiarity from home and encourages new forms of communication. Young refugees will be immersed within the English language working with native English speakers, a proven method for speeding up the adoption of a second language. (Ellis, 2015)
- )Combining work-forces from different ethnic backgrounds creates a mutual goal and demonstrates skill, helping to foster cultural acceptance, understanding and respect. (Sin, 2009; Forsythe, 2011; Goddard, Murray & Duncal, 2013
- Engaging young people in vocational training in areas they are passionate about such as sport, and enabling them to share this with younger children, encourages the enjoyment of learning transferrable skills and promotes independence. This reinstates confidence and ambition over time. (Voekl 2012; A. Fee & S. J. Gray, 2013; J. Verstraete, 2014;)
- Young refugees will achieve skills development and work experience within their new community. This allows continued professional development and a culturally relevant ‘starting point’ when applying for skilled work in the UK (Fuze Beyond Borders, 2016)
Benefits for Children in the UK Participating in the Camps (also relevant to young refugees)
- Offering structured time out of the home with cognitively engaging activities, pastoral care and positive adult role models is proven to aid avoidance of the Summer learning set-back, improving long-term outcomes in education (France & Hommel, 2014; Dept. for Education, 2013).
- Engagement with structured sports and group activities has a multi-faceted impact on under-privileged children's lives diverting attention from negatives, promoting good physical health, cooperation and respect (World Health Organisation, 2003; Heere & James, 2007).
- Socially excluded children will be exercising their human rights to engage in leisure activities; to be part of a team and to develop their talents. They will have their rights to participate and to have a voice promoted and respected throughout, proven to develop self-esteem and independence. (Dept. for Education, 2013)
How will you deliver this?
The Seaver Foundation has 5 years’ experience running Summer Camps for children, including those experiencing social exclusion. Professional sports coaches will use previous evaluations to plan timetables incorporating fun, sports, education and creative outlet. School facilities will be used to offer indoor and outdoor activity space with all necessary amenities.
The summer camp will be promoted to schools and sports clubs in the local community of West Essex. Within these networks consultations will take place to identify children who have social, behavioural and educational difficulties and low socio-economic status limiting access to extra- curricular services.
The opportunity for coaches will be promoted within sports coaching companies and via Fuze Beyond Borders to young refugees in an existing sports programme. It will be an opt-in scheme and is expected to appeal to those of college age with and active interest in learning English; understanding and integrating into local communities; sports; social work and teaching. In preparation for Summer 2017, young refugees will undergo short training programmes in sports coaching, screening and preparation to work with children, through being partnered with a professional mentor.
Both children and coaches will be offered pastoral support during the experience, and a debriefing service for 3 month following departure. Full evaluations will be carried out with all beneficiaries and a report issued for all donors.