About Us

HISTORY

Prior to the launch of Hope for the Young, Dr Saedi, the now Chair of Trustees, was part of a team of health professionals who set up and ran a mental health service for unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in West London. Three years later, when funding from the Department of Health came to an end in 2008, the charity–formerly known as Omid International–was established to continue reaching out to the vulnerable young people now left without support.

It became apparent that there were around 10 young people who required mental health intervention and psycho-social support. The team recruited and trained 10 volunteers who began assisting and mentoring 1-1, on an ad-hoc basis. Despite the challenge of transitioning from one support service to another, this more personalised approach was making a noticeable difference. We saw that a tailored mentoring support service could provide real opportunities to help rebuild lives.

During this time, we also provided financial assistance, including travel costs, living allowances and other necessary resources. It quickly became evident that many young people required financial support simply to access and stay in education. We therefore created an Education Fund that has since enabled over 60 young people to access further and higher education. Due to the popularity and growing need of this Education Fund, in 2011 the decision was made to structure the charity around it, and this is the way it remains today.

In 2014, based on our past mentoring experience, we piloted a Mentoring Service for young refugees and asylum-seekers in London. After receiving National Lottery funding, we officially began the Mentoring Project in March 2016. In its first year, Hope for the Young was able to match 26 young people with a Volunteer Mentor, many of whom have been supported back into education and have gone on to reach their personal goals.

Young refugees and asylum seekers are often unable to receive sufficient education and support. Those that have fled war, persecution and bereavement to seek refuge in Europe have sacrificed their learning to find opportunities for a better life, at a time when many people their age are qualifying for careers.

Many of these young people arriving in the UK will have experienced or witnessed traumatic events and may not be able to cope mentally with general day to day life, let alone understand how to navigate the complex systems in which they now find themselves. Imagine being 16 years old, having left your family behind on a perilous journey, to then pick up your education where you left off, in a new country and in a different language, whilst the danger of being sent back home is a real possibility.

3175 unaccompanied young people applied for asylum in Britain in 2016, mostly aged 14-17. Including those that made it of their own volition, just 31% were granted refugee status. Instead of security and peace of mind, the majority are allowed only short term leave to remain, giving them until they reach 17 and a half before their cases are re-evaluated and the application process starts again.

This long period of uncertainty on top of such extreme circumstance is detrimental to their physical, psychological and social wellbeing and as a result, they suffer social exclusion and can become disaffected with life in the UK. We don’t want to see this happen to anybody when we know it doesn’t have to. We’ve learned that when somebody is there to offer stability and regular 1-1 support during this difficult time, it can transform a young person’s attitude from that of frustration and despair to optimism and hope. We pride ourselves in providing holistic and tailored support as we understand that everyone has different histories, needs and aspirations for the future.

Despite the complex challenges they have faced, it is education that remains their primary focus. Learning new skills and knowledge provides the hope of a better life and future prospects for them and their families. They are determined to access and make the most of this opportunity and we are determined to support them in doing so.

However, many young people wishing to return to education encounter a series of obstacles when trying to enroll. Many cannot afford it as they are not entitled to a student loan to pay for tuition. Misunderstandings on the part of educational institutes about who can access higher and further education can also prevent their studying. Even if a young person is eligible for funding there are often practical difficulties, such as evidencing their right to study. It is complicated further by the fact that different colleges and universities have varying practices and requirements.

Hope for the young directly supports young people to navigate these obstacles, and through our work we aim to challenge the systemic and practical barriers to their education and well-being. Our Education Fund and Mentoring Project supports individuals to overcome adversity and helps to challenge common educational practices that make it so difficult for young asylum-seekers and refugees to access learning opportunities, rebuild their lives, and focus on the positive possibilities of the future.

Our mission is to alleviate hardship and remove obstacles to young people’s education and well-being through tailored financial and mentoring support.

Our Values

Work Together

We rely on our strong relationships with others to ensure we provide the best support to our service users. We aim to support the work of our partners through advocacy and regular communication. We believe that cooperation is the key to advancing mutual objectives and we endeavour to work our hardest to build and maintain strong partnerships with others.

Respect Diversity

We hold the unique qualities of every person with the utmost regard. We understand that giving and receiving respect is fundamental to building trust, and positive, long-lasting relationships. We value acceptance and understand that every individual should be respected. We recognize and celebrate our individual differences and believe that our diversity is what gives the world its beauty.

Adapt

We maintain flexibility in our approach to meet the specific needs and aspirations of those we come into contact with. We think creatively and encourage imagination so as to adapt to the challenging, unforeseen and important demands of those we work with.

Inspire & Empower

We hope to empower people with the desire and ability to achieve their full potential through creative means. We aim to create a positive feeling in those around us and inspire continuous learning amongst ourselves and our partners. We aim to develop our staff’s, volunteer’s and service user’s belief in themselves so that they can feel confident and empowered to overcome the obstacles that make up life as we know it.

Cultivate Growth

We strongly believe in the process of developing oneself psychologically, physically and socially. Our work aims to develop tailored individual growth through learning and the exchange of knowledge. We strive to reach our own full potential as well as doing whatever is in our power to enable those we work with to do the same.

TRUSTEES

DR KAMI SAEDI

Dr Saedi is a retired child and adolescent psychiatrist who has worked with refugee communities for over 30 years. As a volunteer he works both in the UK and abroad, helping young people affected by their social & cultural barriers.

DR HOMA NOSHIRVANI

Dr Noshirvani is a retired adult psychiatrist. She worked in South East London with victims of trauma.

MR JAFAR OMID

Mr Omid is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has had a long career in the financial advisory and investment business. He is an ardent supporter for the promotion of education.

MR MAJID MOSTAFAVI

Mr Mostafavi studied International Affairs at Oxford University. He has been involved with the charity as a volunteer for several years, and instrumental in setting up the mentoring project. He brings energy and innovation to our work.

STAFF

Mentoring Project Manager:

Matthew Blacker

Matthew is responsible for establishing and managing the Mentoring Project across London. This includes recruiting, training, and supporting our Volunteers as well as working closely with organisations that refer young people to the project. He contributes to the development of Hope for the Young’s strategy and direction and oversees fundraising activities and our valuable partnerships.