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Our aim is to see young people build more hopeful futures through education. We believe that by investing in a young person’s education, we are communicating to them that we believe they have a future, and that it is a future worth investing in. We have created our Youth Leadership Course as another way, in addition to our more practical work focused on education, to communicate that same message of worth, hope and future to young refugees and asylum seekers.
All the young people we work with are facing the transition into adulthood. This is a time when every young person wonders who they are and what their contribution might be, but for young refugees this question is inextricably linked with other questions about their future, with many living with uncertain immigration status, mental health difficulties, and a lack of social and emotional support.
Throughout our 10 years of working with this group, we have noted that young refugees also lack a reflective space for thinking about themselves and their place in the world - a space that is sorely needed to allow them to process the dramatic events of journey and resettlement experienced in their childhood and teenage years. It is also important to provide a space for realistic future planning.
We believe that leadership is behaviour rooted in values which we hold deeply, whether consciously or subconsciously. We desire to see young asylum seekers and refugees, wherever they are in the world or on their journey, become leaders in their spheres of influence. We believe that leadership ability is required to lead our own lives well, have a positive effect on the people around us, and ultimately on the world we live in. The course presents a positive model of ‘servant leadership’ where one can lead by inculcating respect and seeing the goodness in others, as well as in themselves.
‘It’s like I always had a lot of these things in my heart, and this course helped me to really see them better, and bring them out and be confident about them.'
The course is based in 4 key values which we believe are foundational to becoming and growing as a leader:
- Our lives have value
- We have good things to offer the world
- There is purpose for our lives
- There is hope for the future
The course is delivered in an interactive and reflective way, with the primary aim being to create space for young people to discuss, reflect and frame their life experiences in a nurturing and encouraging environment. Each session involves elements of:
Presentation: a chance for us to communicate the 4 values to participants through simply voicing that we believe them to be true, through stories and different forms of media, as well as anecdotal examples.
Discussion: Here participants can push back if they do not agree with something that has been said, to voice differing opinions, give their own thoughts and examples.
Activity: where we can, we will carry out activities (observational activities, group work, physical activity) to communicate with participants and fuel discussion on specific themes.
Journalling: This provides a helpful space for participants to reflect and have a confidential place to record their thoughts and feelings. This practice is also hugely beneficial to growing as a leader and generally a more self-reflective and aware person. The journal is entirely personal to participants and can be written in English or another language.
'Everything about this course is unique… it helps me to understand who I am.'
We ran a hugely successful pilot of the course in the autumn of 2018. 100% of participants told us that the course had given them more confidence in themselves as leaders, and all agreed that the course had made them feel more hopeful about their future in the UK.
The course runs over 6 weeks, with one 90 minute session per week. 7 - 10 places are available on each course and the sessions are facilitated by two experienced RSN staff members. The young people who attend all have a proficient level of English and are engaged and motivated people.
If you're interested in attending a future round of the leadership course, contact Hannah Elwyn.