Launched in 1998, Refugee Week (June 20-26) raises awareness of the reasons why people seek refuge and provides an opportunity to celebrate community, mutual care and the human ability to start again. In recognition of this and refugees’ resilience, this year’s theme is one of ‘healing’.
Many people seek sanctuary in Portsmouth due to instability in their home countries including unaccompanied minors (UAMs) often fleeing persecution, war, disaster and poverty. Arriving as young as 12-years-old, these vulnerable children and young people have travelled hundreds of miles, have been separated from family through no fault of their own, and often speak little or no English. The number of UAMs travelling to our shores and seeking safety continues to rise and we need more foster carers to provide safe homes to help us provide a place of safety.
Refugee Week, held across the UK annually in June around Refugee Day on 20 June, also allows us to recognise the contribution of refugees to our economic and cultural environments. One inspiring account is that of Elyas who, despite his challenging start on arrival in the UK in 2015 including not speaking English and a learning disability, graduated from college is now at the University of East London. Elyas’s story demonstrates the difference we can make to the lives of vulnerable young people, supporting their journey to independence.
Caring for these children and young people arriving unaccompanied in the UK is highly rewarding; supporting their ambitions to learn English, engage in education and discover their carer’s own culture and way of life. Tamara and Menno Groen have cared for vulnerable young people in the Portsmouth area for four years. Tamara shared, “As a woman of colour and daughter of an immigrant, I am particularly passionate about immigrant and refugee rights, and about supporting young asylum seekers. This led me to hosting young people, particularly unaccompanied asylum seeking young people.”
Tamara continued, “As a port city, Portsmouth is a hub for unaccompanied minors, and I want to provide them with a safe and welcoming home. I also help them deal with life admin such as contacting the immigration solicitor and dealing with the Home Office. Being able to advocate for a young person, to help them fight their corner, to see them develop emotionally and become settled in the home and their lives is great. I provide a bridge between foster care and independent living, so my role is to guide them and support them towards this.”
One young person, 17 at the time he stayed with Tamara and Menno, was an independent, determined young man, keen to learn English and create a life for himself in the UK. Tamara concluded, “You are providing a young person with a secure base as they make their way in the world.”
Foster Portsmouth need more foster carers who can help us meet the needs of these vulnerable children and young people arriving from around the world, often in the form of an emergency, short term placement or Supported Lodgings until they’re ready to live independently or be reunited with family.
To enquire about fostering with Foster Portsmouth, or to arrange a 1:1 with one of our experienced team or existing foster carers, please fill in our contact form below, call 023 9283 4071 or email email@example.com.