Vici and Manmohan’s life-changing story

Born in Afghanistan, Manmohan aged 23, had been in the UK for three years before being referred to Hope for the Young. Manmohan is quadriplegic. Unable to use his arms and legs, he requires round-the-clock care from his parents and cannot travel unaided. We cannot begin to imagine the challenges he and his family faced getting to the UK safely, but we do see the obstacles they still face every day in trying to get the support they need now they have arrived. Not only is seeking asylum in the UK plagued with challenges due to a complex immigration system and lack of support for those most in need, but having a disability on top of this, makes it a thousand times harder. As Manmohan cannot move around freely or go upstairs, just finding safe and appropriate accommodation is a challenge in and amongst itself. Through all of this, Manmohan’s determination to access education, get a job and have a meaningful future is truly remarkable. As he says,

“I want a job in IT, and to be a volunteer. I want to help disabled people. I want to help to fill their forms and help with everything.”

When he first arrived in London, having never been given the chance to access mainstream education both in Afghanistan and in the UK, he used the shared computers at his local library as this was the only way he could study. However, to use the computer, he had to be accompanied by a family member who would use the keyboard and mouse on his behalf. For someone who is so driven to learn, the lack of independence was unbelievably tough. At home he accessed the internet via a mobile phone. His parents would prop up the device so that he could use his face to navigate the device. The process was slow and frustrating, especially for Manmohan, who despite his lack of formal education, is a technology mastermind! Despite his physical limitations, his generosity mixed with an incredible intelligence, saw anybody who knew Manmohan coming to him to seek advice on how to fix their smart phones and other technological problems. Despite this, most of his time was spent at home becoming increasingly isolated, yet desperate to find out about college courses and activities he could get involved with.

Manmohan was referred to Hope for the Young by the British Red Cross and matched with one of our amazing mentors, Vici. After getting to know one another with an interpreter, they quickly formed a bond and began working on his targets to improve his English and enroll in college. Vici, who works in Communications for Save the Children, initially felt apprehensive about the many obstacles they would have to overcome, but quickly realised the impact that their meetings were having. She says,

“At the beginning, it felt a bit overwhelming, just seeing the extent of the challenges Manmohan was facing. But knowing that our mentoring was helping him overcome those challenges made it worthwhile.”

With the consistent care, expertise, and guidance from Vici, alongside Manmohan’s determination, his English improved rapidly. They were then able to explore college options and begin to work out how he could travel there independently. She also helped him print and return forms using the library’s facilities and did her best to help him build as much independence as possible. As Manmohan says,

“First time I needed an interpreter but I don’t need this now. Vici explained everything very good. Before, Vici needed to do forms for me and now I can do it.”

In addition, Vici helped Manmohan to apply to Hope for the Young’s Education Fund and he was awarded a laptop to help him with his studies. Through Vici’s extensive research of Manmohan’s condition, she was able to seek advice on what he needed to be able to use the laptop more easily. As a result, Hope for the Young was able to arrange eye-tracking software to be uploaded onto his computer so that he could use it unaided and become more self-sufficient.

The outcome of mentoring support in this instance has been astounding. It has opened multiple possibilities for Manmohan who can now independently manage his own accounts, call people, fill in forms, access support services and join educational courses online. It also shows how tailored mentoring support can change the lives of those with a huge variety of needs.

Commitment, trust, and respect for one another is the key to building a successful mentoring relationship and Manmohan and Vici showed this throughout their time together. Summarising her experience Vici states,

“It’s been great. He’s been so reliable and hardworking, and always turns up to his sessions. It’s been good to learn about him and his friends. It’s been really nice. First sessions we were both nervous, I think, and I also started off too easy! It’s been very rewarding to see him make all this progress. He’s been a great mentee.”

Through working closely together with other support networks, in September Manmohan finally started college to study ESOL Entry 1 and he’s been told he’ll already be moving up a level in the new year. Everybody at Hope for the Young is absolutely delighted for him!

Although all mentoring relationships must eventually come to an end, it is clear that the impact of this relationship will last for a very long time. We end their story with Manmohan’s final thoughts on his Mentor,

“She was very funny and smiley. I want to give 5 stars for Vici! Last 6 months has been very good. I will miss her every week.”

We all have the potential to change somebody else’s life for the better. So if you’d like to be a Mentor for Hope for the Young, please feel free to get in touch with us at mentoring@hopefortheyoung.org.uk and we’d be happy to explain how to get involved 🙂