YOUNG asylum seekers have shared their stories in a bid to help youngsters in Warwickshire understand their plight.
Following work with several young asylum seekers, staff at Lillington Youth Centre in Leamington were horrified to hear about prejudiced comments being made by classmates about their backgrounds.
So, at the suggestion of an asylum seeker, the staff decided to share their stories of how they came to the UK in a booklet.
Writing under pseudonyms, six young people related stories of being forced to leave their families and come to the UK from countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq.
Taohoe, now 15, fled the Kirkup area of Iraq. He rememberd his country being beautiful when he was young, but escalating violence prompted his parents to send him to a safer country two years ago.
Leaving his family behind, Taohoe was taken on journey by a man he did not know to a unknown destination in a lorry, during which he was given scraps of food and little water.
He was later dropped off at a service station in the UK where he was taken to the police and met by social workers who were able to find him a place to live and school to attend in Warwickshire.
But although Taohoe was able to reach safety he has no idea what happened to his family back in Iraq, and has no way of contacting them.
Ildris, now 18, grew up in Halmand Province in Afghanistan. When he was just 12-years-old his family sold their land to pay for him to travel to Europe. The journey was perilous and involved crossing the mountains of Iran in the freezing cold to reach Turkey. From Turkey Ildris and other refugees crossed the Mediterranean in an overcrowded boat in the dark. Halfway through the journey the engine stopped and the boat was tossed about among the waves.
Eventually he arrived at the notorious ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais where he waited for over five months before smuggling himself onto a lorry through the channel tunnel. He is currently waiting to see if he can stay in the UK.
The booklet, paid for by Leamington Town Council, has been distributed to schools in Leamington, some of which plan to use it in their Religious Education classes.
County education spokesman Coun Colin Hayfield said: “This is a powerful way to help people form a better understanding of the plight of asylum seekers in this country.
“I hope as many schools as possible take up these booklets and the recipients are able to grasp the struggles endured and why it’s vital that Warwickshire plays it’s part in settling these young people”
A PDF copy of the booklet can be downloaded from news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2018/03/01/lillington-youth-centre-issues-booklets-to-schools-to-help-students-gain-a-better-understanding-of-asylum-seekers/
* Warwickshire County Council has also been working very closely with partners in the district and borough councils, the health economy and the third sector to rehome a number of families who have been among the worst affected by the conflict in Syria.
This project, which is wholly funded by central government, puts in place a package of support including housing, education, health care and emotional support.