Laura is one of RSN’s volunteer educational mentors. She raised £3000 for RSN by undertaking one of the biggest challenges of her life. Before this challenge, she explained why.
This summer, Jon and I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - the highest mountain in Africa - in support of Refugee Support Network.
I have seen the work of RSN first hand through working in college and also as a volunteer mentor. As a mentor, I used to meet up with Hope, an 18 year old single mum, who had been trafficked from Nigeria. Her determination to succeed in her studies was inspiring - each week she would bring questions and essay topics that she wanted to work on and we would sit in the local library and plan out the answers for her Health and Social Care course. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t know enough about Health and Social Care to be able to help her - but it soon became clear that my role as a mentor was to clarify things, and mainly to encourage her that she was on the right track.
I will never forget her look of joy and relief one day when I told her that her outline essay answer was really good - and it reminded me of all those years of constant encouragement that I had got from my parents - and which Hope - apart from the mentoring - did not have.
RSN works with unaccompanied minors - young people who have either been trafficked here for exploitation, or arrive alone as asylum seekers, often from war torn countries like Afghanistan or Syria. RSN assigns these young people a volunteer mentor, who they meet once a week to help with their education. A bit like when my parents sat me down to help with learning my French verbs or just to make sure I had done my homework.
There are some young people who need more input than the weekly hour’s educational mentoring, and a lot of these are students in the college where I work, so I witness from both sides the help that RSN provides. People suffering from depression or struggling to access college or even university due to their immigration status, RSN have come alongside and helped them with the steps they need to move forward.
When Jon and I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, we were looking for a challenge and we wanted to combine it with something we feel passionate about. For many of the young people that RSN helps, every day is a challenge, so it made perfect sense to us to ask for sponsorship to support them through RSN. When we’re sweating up that mountain, it will cheer us on to think that we are helping young people coming from terrible situations get on with their education and their lives.