RSN is adapting its work in light of COVID-19. Please click here to find out more.  To find out more about how COVID-19 is impacting our Specialist Education and Wellbeing Support Programme, please scroll to the bottom of this page. 

About RSN's Specialist Education and Wellbeing Support Programme

RSN’s specialist education and wellbeing support provision addresses some of the foundational challenges that young refugees and asylum seekers experience that can have a detrimental impact on their education and emotional wellbeing. 

We provide both shorter-term programmes of casework support, addressing interventions to enable a young person to move forward in their education, as well as longer-term and holistic support to young people who are not in education, employment or training or who are at risk of withdrawing or being excluded. 

We work with young people, ages 14-25, across London and Birmingham, often in coordination with our other programmes to provide the necessary wrap-around support. We prioritise young people with mental ill health, and/or survivors of trauma. 

We engage around 80 new young people each year and continue to work with a small number of others who experience acute support needs. Approximately 30 further young people are engaged through outreach, workshops, and our specialist support helpline. 

What this programme aims to do

Our vision through this programme is to meet regularly over the intervention period and to explore sustainable pathways back into education or training. We take a person-centered approach to support work, creating a bespoke action plan with each young person, which is regularly reviewed and updated.

Much of the work facilitated through this programme addresses core foundational challenges which commonly destablise young people and make it hard, if not impossible, for them to focus on and engage in education. These could include, for example: 

  • mental ill health;
  • protracted immigration applications;
  • homelessness and housing;
  • poverty, welfare and benefits;
  • lack of access to health and other essential services; 
  • low confidence in understanding and asserting rights and entitlements, or;
  • feelings around separation from or concern for family and other loved ones in other countries or countries of origin.  

We recognise that young people are often not able to engage sustainably in education whilst the foundations are unsettled, or uncertain. Our focus is, therefore, to work through these issues within the broader context of focusing on providing containment and building resilience and emotional wellbeing. 

The programme works towards four principal outcomes: 

  • Increased participation and progression in a bespoke education pathway, designed with the young person. 
  • Improved basic skills to enhance progression pathways in education, training or into future employment. 
  • Reduced loneliness and isolation through the development of holistic and longer-term networks of support (both social and professional). 
  • Improved emotional resilience - capacity to cope with change and transition, protracted ‘waiting periods’, and disappointment. 

Across all of our work we aim to promote young people’s confidence in themselves and a full understanding of their self-worth. 

How to refer someone to this programme

Bryony Norman is our programme lead for this service and can be contacted here. She retains a caseload of young people with higher levels of need. 

This programme is currently closed to referrals in London (we continue to accept referrals in Birmingham). We had hoped to be in a position to take on new referrals in September 2020 but unfortunately we are not able to do so for the foreseeable future. We will review this at the end of October 2020 and update this page accordingly. 

COVID-19 and Specialist Education and Wellbeing Support FAQs

1. Are we accepting new referrals of young people at this time? 

Unfortunately, we are closed to new referrals at this time. Our specialist education and wellbeing support team are working at reduced capacity at the moment and therefore prioritising only young people who are already accessing our services. We have found that the needs of young people have increased and that recently 'closed' young people have got in touch to re-access further advice and support. Our programme lead, Bryony Norman, will be happy to direct new referrals to sources of relevant advice and support. Where needed, we will also place potential longer-term referrals onto our waiting list for in-person support, to start once our usual service is resumed. 

2. Are we continuing to 'onboard' young people from our waiting lists? 

We are currently only onboarding young people on a case by case basis, based on staff capacity and where there is no existing support network already in place. We will be contacting referral partners to let them know if we need to postpone onboarding of a particular young person until a later date. 

3. How have we adapted specialist education and wellbeing support? 

All of our 1:1 specialist education and wellbeing support sessions are continuing and have transitioned to phone- and video-based services. We are experiencing an increased demand for our services and our support workers are working hard to speak regularly with young people and to problem-solve some of the additional challenges they are experiencing through this season. A particular focus on emotional support has been prioritised, and on enabling access to ongoing learning. We will be starting our online-based group workshops for young people in Birmingham in June 2020, and we are exploring arrangements for a weekly online English language class for our London-based young people. With almost half of the young people supported through this programme having no access to a working laptop or tablet, we are proactively securing refurbished resources. We welcome any engagement in this task, particularly from our corporate partners. Laptops can be refurbished in partnership with Social Box, and sent on to meet the needs of young refugees. Recognising some young people's challenges engaging with online learning, we have also responsibly onboarded emergency volunteers facilitate additional educational mentoring. We are continuing to fundraise for and administer hardship fund support to our most acutely-affected young people, through food vouchers, food parcels, and wellbeing and sleep hygiene kits.

Support RSN's emergency COVID-19 appeal

Refugee Support Network is a charity registered in England & Wales under charity number 1132509 and company number 06879651 at 1st Floor, The Salvation Army Building, London NW10 4JJ. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
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