As the school holidays comes to an end, more than 100 refugee young people and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are preparing to put into practice a range of skills learned over their summer break.
For the last month, SummerMix summer school has run a wide range of accredited educational and vocational courses to support the recently-arrived young people’s smooth integration into UK life.
Open to unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people aged 15 to 18 who are living and/or accessing services in Croydon, courses have included intensive English for speakers of other language courses, maths, art, sports and ICT to help prepare them for attending school or college; as well as other life skills such as cooking, motorbike mechanics, gardening and budgeting.
The young people participated in a range of classes
Funded by the DfE following a successful bid from Croydon Council, this is the second year SummerMix has taken place in Croydon and about 70 young people attended each day. Due to the location of the UK Home Office in the town centre, Croydon is a ‘gateway authority’ which means all asylum-seekers have to present in the borough on their arrival to the UK, and this has resulted in a significant number of children being looked-after by the council.
Aissatou enjoyed picking fruit in the garden
Aissatou, 15, came to the UK from Guinea in May. She said: “I have loved learning English and Maths at SummerMix, they’re really important to me. The teachers are really good and I have really improved. I also liked being in the garden and picking the apples, beans and salad for everyone to take home.”
Vu, who is from Vietnam, said his foster carer signed him up to Summer Mix to help him learn more about British culture.
The 15-year-old said: “SummerMix has been good, I feel happy. I get to explore another culture and make friends. English has been the best because I am improving my speaking – if I don’t know English I can’t do anything in the UK [and that’s why] the first thing is to learn English.”
The young people also enjoyed trips to the farm
But the focus has not just been on educational and vocational session. The young people have also been able to enjoy day trips to a range of places including theme parks, farms – where they helped to feed the animals – and for long walks in the countryside.
“I am delighted SummerMix returned this summer to support these young people and teach them a range of skills to enable them to thrive in their new surroundings, while also having fun and meeting other young people in similar circumstances.
“Croydon is incredibly proud of its work welcoming and caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people and we welcome government funding for projects like this as it enables us to provide them with stability as they integrate into our community.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning