Kent Refugee Action Network

Refugee youth voices are heard and acted on as part of a youth ambassador program in Kent, UK.

Grant Type
UK
Focus
Social Inclusion
Date
2023
Partner
Kent Refugee Action Network

Obaida arrived in Kent as a teenager from war-torn Syria, as part of the UK Government’s resettlement scheme. Now a young man, he is a graduate, TV-presenter, conference speaker and an advocate for young refugees, thanks in large part to his role as a Youth Ambassador at the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

“I was very shy and now I have developed the skills to present to conferences and schools, where for many school children it is the first time they have ever engaged with a refugee,” Obaida says.

“I can articulate the specific issues that block refugee youth from jobs and my voice is being heard widely, including presenting on the TV series Generation Justice and at a Parliamentary Education Select Committee discussing child access to education.”

Every year, thousands of young refugees and asylum seekers arrive in Kent, which borders the English Channel on England’s southeast coast, without their families. On arrival, they are placed in local authority care. KRAN supports these young people with education, mentoring, wellbeing, caseworker, engagement, outreach and advocacy programs.

The organisation’s Youth Ambassador Program is an extension of KRAN’s traineeship scheme. It aims to reach more young people to enable refugee youth to make their voices heard and acted on. KRAN employs four Youth Ambassadors, including Obadia, who have recently made it through the asylum-seeking process. The organisation supports them to represent youth voices in Kent and UK debates and forums.

The Bennelong Foundation has funded the Youth Ambassador Program since 2023.

In that year, the ambassadors:

• Ran 23 school talks to raise awareness;

• Facilitated monthly Youth Forum meetings;

• Developed animation resources on mental health in partnership with the UK Youth Trauma Council;

• Partnered with Peoples United to produce an award-winning art installation;

• Collaborated with researchers from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University; and

• Organised and delivered a Kent Conference at Dover Castle.

“Most importantly, the Youth Ambassadors ensure that the voice of young refugees became part of our organisation's decision-making,” says Dr Razia Shariff, KRAN’s Chief Executive Officer.

“They have helped KRAN interview new staff applicants, presented their ideas to the board of trustees, and co-created KRAN’s Youth Engagement Strategy.”

Impactful results

The Benefit

Kent Refugee Action Network is enabling young refugees to learn, work and connect with others, and to have a voice

Outcome

More opportunities for young refugees to participate in society, both social and economic.

Outcome

Barriers that cause social exclusion for young refugees are being broken down.

Youth Ambassadors ensure that the voice of young refugees became part of our organisation's decision-making.

Dr Razia Shariff

Chief Executive Officer, KRAN

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