With funding from the Queens Trust, the Young Citizens programme will see young people who are passionate about using their experiences of making a life in this country, work with and represent the views of children and young people who want to do the same.
14 young people attended the day – sharing their ideas, thoughts and passion to bring the project to life. They had moved to the UK from countries including Afghanistan, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Indonesia and Ethiopia and had varied experiences and backgrounds. What brought them together was their desire to make a difference to the lives of others.
One of the young people gave reasons for joining the project: “Having been a migrant myself from my early teens, I understand the importance such projects and events put in place to help young people. And why it is crucial that the general public understands why these people make dangerous trips to reach safety. I would like to talk to the community and the young people how they can take advantage of the opportunity and secure a fruitful future for themselves and the community. I would like to put my experience to work, that I have gained with working with Children in care and asylum seekers.”
The day was a chance for the young people to get to know each other and bond as a group that will work together to lead change. They took part in activities to share what they thought the issues were for migrant children and young people and what could be done to improve the situation. They discussed how they can help change attitudes, act as role models for other children and young people and improve understanding and integration within schools.
The young people were asked what message they would give to the public about what it means to be a migrant young person in the UK today:
“I would tell the public in the UK, thank you for giving me this opportunity for a new life as it is really hard to be a young person in a new country without my parents and loved ones.”
“I’d like them to know about the problems that made me leave my country, because many people do not know about the situation, and to understand the problems we face here.”
“I want people to understand that it was not my choice be here and that just because one person is born in a different country does not mean they deserve any more or any less than someone born in a different country.”
“It means a lot for me because I know the difference between UK and other European country I have been in like four European countries but the British people they know the value of human rights.”
“To be a migrant is to sacrifice. You have more in common with migrants than you realise and if the public just listened or got to know a young person who has fled the unimaginable to settle here, to seek refuge here, you will realise how costly the journey is. You should be proud Britain is seen as a refuge for many, and welcome those who seek safety.”