About Us

We are a community of mentors, staff, young people, and volunteers who are passionate about welcoming young refugees to the UK and ensuring they are given every opportunity they need to settle into their communities, access education, and reach their full potential.

Our Mission

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

Young people seeking sanctuary in the UK are determined to access education and make the most of their opportunities. At Hope for the Young, we are determined to support them in doing so.

We understand that everyone has different backgrounds, needs, and aspirations for the future. We therefore pride ourselves in providing holistic and tailored one-to-one support that ensures young people can move towards their goals, regardless of their starting point.

 

Why do we exist?

01

The Refugee Crisis

In 2021, 4,081 unaccompanied children arrived in the UK seeking safety. Coping with the aftermath of war, persecution, and bereavement, many have experienced traumatic events that make it hard to cope with day-to-day life. With 7 out of 10 people waiting over a year for a decision on their asylum claim and over 2,000 people waiting three years or more, this long period of uncertainty is devastating to young people’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. As a result, many suffer social exclusion and find it difficult to access the support they need to move forwards with their lives.

02

Driven by hope

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. As one young person we work with said, “Education means hope to me. It shows that there can be a future.” However, many young people wishing to return to education encounter a series of obstacles when trying to enrol.

03

Financial Hardship

Asylum-seekers in the UK are not entitled to student loans to pay for university. Instead they are categorised as international students and must pay fees that can range between £10,000 – £30,000 per year. Those over 18 are not entitled to work and are provided a basic allowance of £49.18 to live off per week, or  just ££8.86 for those placed in full-board accommodation. Even if a young person is able to access education through a university scholarship, many still cannot afford the living costs, transport, or resources required to attend. Education, therefore, remains inaccessible to many young people who have to wait in limbo until a final decision is made on their asylum claim.

04

Lack of advice and support

When trying to settle in the UK there remain many further obstacles to young people’s well-being and progression. These include language barriers, mental health needs, discrimination, and a lack of access to support available. In addition, the complex immigration system means there is limited awareness of the rights and entitlements of those with insecure immigration status which means that many young people fail to receive the appropriate guidance they need. This restricts their potential, reduces self-esteem, and prevents them from progressing in line with their peers – reducing participation and exacerbating inequality across the UK.

05

A wider impact on society

When a young person wishing to rebuild their life is denied access to education and the personal support they need, it can quickly result in their dreams for the future fading away. Education is essential for enhancing job prospects, reducing poverty, improving health, and contributing to the UK’s economic growth. With limited ways for young people to utilise their skills, pursue their passions, or engage with their communities, it is not surprising that many young people’s mental health deteriorates as they find themselves isolated and disengaged from the society in which they belong. Hope for the Young’s work shows that it does not have to be this way.

How we support?

Our programmes are designed to work closely together to remove the range of barriers preventing young refugees and asylum-seekers from accessing the education and support they need to reach their full potential.

Mentoring

We offer tailored one-to-one mentoring to enable young refugees to settle into their communities and pursue their goals.

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Financial Support

We pay for tuition fees, transport, and general study costs so that young refugees can access and complete their education.

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Advocacy

We provide advice, guidance, and support throughout young people’s education to maximise their chances of success.

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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 establish the most effective support networks and future pathways for those we support.

Respecting Diversity

We celebrate the unique qualities of all individuals. We understand that giving and receiving respect is fundamental to building positive and trusting relationships and we will always value the diversity of everybody we work with at 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 staff, volunteers, young people, partners, and supporters.

Community Focused

We encourage participation and inclusion in all aspects of our work so that we can listen and respond to young people 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.

Our 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.

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.

Dr Cathy Street

Dr Street has worked in the field of children and young people’s mental health for over 25 years as a health researcher and consultant. She has held senior management and research director roles at a number of the UK’s national mental health charities and is currently an Honorary Associate Professor at Warwick Medical School, where she has been involved in international research about mental health services for young people and how to improve the transition from children’s to adult’s services.

Mick Atkinson

Mick is a skilled senior manager and consultant whose work career has spanned both the public and third sector. He has many years’ experience managing and commissioning children and family services in social care and leading on research and campaigning for charities. His work has given him a unique insight into statutory services, public policy and the world of the voluntary and community sector.

Mick currently delivers a range of training and coaching related to mental health and the impact of childhood adversity. Beyond his daily work he is a Governor of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School, a Director of the Children’s Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) and acts as an advisor to a number of bodies relating to children, schools and mental health.

 

Niki Kalyvides

Niki is currently the Client Data and Impact Manager at Refugee Council. She has previously worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre, Impact Manager at another refugee charity, and in various policy and analytical roles across government, including at HM Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. She has a lot of experience volunteering with refugee communities in Greece and Cyprus, and has been a mentor with Hope for the Young since 2016.

 

Our Team

Matt Blacker

Matt oversees all programmes 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.

Matt Blacker Matt Blacker

Matt oversees all programmes 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.

Chief Executive Officer

Brenda Kola

Brenda is our Head of Programmes. Her role is to oversee the delivery and expansion of Hope for the Young’s two main programme areas, ensuring that our key delivery targets are met and that young people receive effective and meaningful support.

Brenda Kola Brenda Kola

Brenda is our Head of Programmes. Her role is to oversee the delivery and expansion of Hope for the Young’s two main programme areas, ensuring that our key delivery targets are met and that young people receive effective and meaningful support.

Head of Programmes

Ellie Alvarez

Ellie oversees the development of the Mentoring Programme across Croydon & South London. Her responsibilities include scoping out new partnerships to provide more opportunities to young people on the programme, developing our training, and working closely with referral partners to expand our reach. Ellie also oversees mentoring relationships across South London.

Ellie Alvarez Ellie Alvarez

Ellie oversees the development of the Mentoring Programme across Croydon & South London. Her responsibilities include scoping out new partnerships to provide more opportunities to young people on the programme, developing our training, and working closely with referral partners to expand our reach. Ellie also oversees mentoring relationships across South London.

Programme Manager (Croydon & South London)

Katie Dunne

Katie oversees the development of the Mentoring Programme across North London. Her responsibilities include scoping out new partnerships to provide more opportunities to young people on the programme, developing our training, and working closely with referral partners to expand our reach. Katie also oversees mentoring relationships across North London.

Katie Dunne Katie Dunne

Katie oversees the development of the Mentoring Programme across North London. Her responsibilities include scoping out new partnerships to provide more opportunities to young people on the programme, developing our training, and working closely with referral partners to expand our reach. Katie also oversees mentoring relationships across North London.

Programme Manager (North London)

Alice Finta

Alice manages and curates our website, social media and other communications channels. They also oversee Hope for the Young’s community and events fundraising activities and support with other fundraising activities, including individual giving and trusts and foundations fundraising.

Alice Finta Alice Finta

Alice manages and curates our website, social media and other communications channels. They also oversee Hope for the Young’s community and events fundraising activities and support with other fundraising activities, including individual giving and trusts and foundations fundraising.

Communications and Fundraising Officer

Pamela Verma

Pamela oversees our Grants and Advocacy Programme and is the first point of contact when somebody applies to the programme for support. She oversees the application process and provides tailored advocacy to all our grant recipients, ensuring they get the right help and advice throughout their studies.

Pamela Verma Pamela Verma

Pamela oversees our Grants and Advocacy Programme and is the first point of contact when somebody applies to the programme for support. She oversees the application process and provides tailored advocacy to all our grant recipients, ensuring they get the right help and advice throughout their studies.

Grants and Advocacy Coordinator

Lois Barton

Lois is a North London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in North London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Lois Barton Lois Barton

Lois is a North London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in North London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Programme Coordinator (North London)

Katie Ogilvie

Katie is a North London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in North London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Katie Ogilvie Katie Ogilvie

Katie is a North London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in North London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Programme Coordinator (North London)

Alex Pang

Alex is a South London Mentoring Coordinator. His role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in South London. He then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Alex Pang Alex Pang

Alex is a South London Mentoring Coordinator. His role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in South London. He then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Programme Coordinator (South London)

Emily Hill

Emily is a South London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in South London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Emily Hill Emily Hill

Emily is a South London Mentoring Coordinator. Her role is to match young people referred to the Mentoring Programme to volunteer mentors in South London. She then oversees these mentoring relationships and provides additional support to the mentor and mentee throughout their mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Programme Coordinator (South London)

Sayed Sajjad

Sayed is our Operations Officer. His role is to provide critical support in areas such as Finance, IT, HR, Fundraising and Operations, to build Hope for the Young’s organisational capacity and ensure the efficient running and embedding of essential operational and administrative processes.

Sayed Sajjad Sayed Sajjad

Sayed is our Operations Officer. His role is to provide critical support in areas such as Finance, IT, HR, Fundraising and Operations, to build Hope for the Young’s organisational capacity and ensure the efficient running and embedding of essential operational and administrative processes.

Operations Officer

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