About Us

MISSION

Our mission is to alleviate hardship and remove obstacles to young refugees and asylum-seekers’ education and well-being through financial and mentoring support.

Young refugees and asylum seekers who 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, saying goodbye to your family and embarking on a perilous journey across the world to find a place of safety and security. When you arrive you will attempt to 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.

2872 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Britain in 2018, mostly aged 14-17. Including those that made it of their own volition, just 50% were granted refugee status and allowed to stay in the UK. Instead of security and peace of mind, the rest are allowed only short-term leave to remain, giving them until they reach 17 and a half before their cases are re-evaluated and they risk being returned to the country they have fled. This long period of uncertainty on top of such extreme circumstance is detrimental to their physical, psychological and social well-being and as a result, they suffer social exclusion and can become disaffected with life in the UK.

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. However, many young people wishing to return to education encounter a series of obstacles when trying to enrol.

Asylum-seekers in the UK are currently categorised as international students and must pay international student fees that can range between £8,000 – £28,000 per year. Those over 18 are not entitled to work and are provided a basic allowance of £37.75 to live off per week. Education, therefore, remains inaccessible to those who may have to wait many years for a decision from the Home Office. 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’s status makes them 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.

We’ve seen how a consistent lack of hope for the future can result in disastrous consequences. Without being able to work or study, isolation increases, and mental health deteriorates, which creates many further problems for society. We don’t want to see this happen because we know it doesn’t have to. We’ve learned that when somebody is there to offer stability and regular one-to-one 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. They are determined to access and make the most of their opportunities and we are determined to support them in doing so.

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 through financial and mentoring support. Our Education Fund and Mentoring Project support 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.

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 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.

There were around 10 young people who required mental health intervention and additional psycho-social support. Dr Saedi and his colleagues therefore recruited and trained volunteers who helped run group activities during which, they also began providing tailored one-to-one support 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. They saw that a tailored mentoring service could provide real opportunities to help rebuild lives.

During this time, many of these young people also required financial support simply to access and stay in education. Responding to this, the team therefore began to raise money to provide financial assistance, including travel costs, living allowances and other necessary resources. Due to the popularity and growing need, in 2011 the decision was made to create an Education Fund to formally support young refugees and asylum-seekers to access and remain in further and higher education.

At the end of 2015, we received National Lottery funding to recruit our first member of staff and pilot a more formalised Mentoring Project for young refugees and asylum-seekers in London. Since March 2016, the Mentoring Project has gone from strength to strength, with the start of 2019 seeing us recruit two new Mentoring Coordinators to expand the service across North and South London.

The Mentoring Project and Education Fund continue to work side by side in removing the obstacles that young refugees and asylum-seekers face in accessing education and reaching their full potential. At Hope for the Young, we will always strive to do our very best at responding to the needs of all those referred to us.

Our Values

Working Together

We work closely together with all our partners and do our best at building strong, long-lasting and meaningful relationships with others so that we can provide the most effective support networks and future pathways for the young people we support.

Respecting Diversity

We hold the unique qualities of every person with the utmost respect. We understand that giving and receiving respect is fundamental to building trust and positive, long-lasting relationships and we will always celebrate the diversity of everyone inside or outside Hope for the Young.

Adaptability

We are flexible in our approach so that we can meet the specific needs and aspirations of the young people we support. We allow ourselves to respond creatively so that we can adapt to any challenges or unforeseen demands within our work.

Cultivating Growth

We empower people with the desire and ability to achieve their full potential through the exchange of knowledge and access to services.  We aim to create a positive feeling in those around us and inspire continuous learning and confidence amongst our staff, volunteers, service users, partners, and supporters.

Community Focused

We encourage participation and inclusion in all aspects of our work so that we can listen and respond to our service users and provide a platform for their voices to be heard. We sincerely value the hard work and dedication of all our volunteers and partners and strive to facilitate welcoming and supportive relationships, rooted in local communities.

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.

Our Team

Matt Blacker

Head of Programmes and DevelopmentMatt setup the Mentoring Project in 2016 and now oversees all the projects at Hope for the Young. He’s responsible for developing Hope for the Young’s strategy, overseeing fundraising and marketing activities, and building the charity’s core infrastructure and sustainability.

Andrew Walsh

Mentoring Project Coordinator (Croydon and South London)Andrew’s role is to facilitate the assessment and matching of all young people living in Croydon and South London, whilst working closely alongside our key referral partners and regularly training and supporting our mentors.

Aoife Kelly

Mentoring Project Coordinator (North London)Aoife's role is to facilitate the assessment and matching of all young people living in North London, whilst working closely alongside our key referral partners and regularly training and supporting our mentors.