In February 2014 After18 were awarded £9,532 through the Community Foundation from the Comic Relief Local Communities fund.
After18 works with young people up to the age of 25 with a particular focus on unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young adults. They provide specialist information and support to enable those they work with to adjust to life in the UK and prepare for their future.
The organisation works with young people who have come to the UK alone after becoming separated from their family, usually in traumatic circumstances. Many have had limited or disrupted education and arrive in the UK at the point when their peers are doing their exams. Language barriers, uncertainty about their future and living independently all impact on their access to education.
After18 recognises that young people who are in the UK without their family have additional support needs to their peers. They work to develop their skills and capabilities through individual support, group work and activities. As well as the education project they also run an arts programme and a women’s programme.
With the help of the Comic Relief funding After18 provided an education drop-in for unaccompanied young people. The drop in met weekly at St Martins House and provided access to computers. Here the young people were matched with volunteers who provided some of the following help and support:
- Tuition in Maths, English and Science
- Advice on accessing higher education
- Preparation and entry for home language GCSEs
- Advice and support to maintain their education (such as registering at college familiarising with library)
- Homework support
Alison Birch from After18 said, ‘Some further education colleges have recently started charging asylum seekers for ESOL classes which, for most, is unaffordable. After18 have also supported young people who are not able to buy food as they are paying for an education.’
Through After18 two young people were entered for GCSE Persian through a partnership with a local school. Both young people achieved As. After18 believes it is really important for young people to take home language exams to boost the number of GCSEs they have: as they arrive late in their school careers and need to concentrate on English they tend to leave education with fewer formal qualifications than they are capable of.
Three young people working with After18 have also been supported to become trainee researchers at Oxford University.
Some of those who have attended After18 said:
“It helps to distract us from past bad times.”
“It’s important for our future.”
Well done After18!