Hakim, originally from Afghanistan, arrived in the UK aged 16. When he was referred to Hope for the Young, he was struggling to settle into his new home and understand the new world around him. This is the story of how Hakim’s mentor Muzzy helped him to find his feet in the UK.
Hakim arrived in the UK aged just 16 years old. Life in the UK was very different from life in Afghanistan and Hakim found it difficult to adjust to a new environment.
The main problem that Hakim struggled with was the language barrier. Not being able to speak very much English made travelling around London, accessing services such as the GP, and communicating with people like his solicitor very difficult for Hakim. The language barrier also made making friends very difficult, which left Hakim feeling isolated and frustrated.
I was not able to speak to anyone, I didn’t know any English. I was always at home and it was frustrating because I wanted to go out and do things and make friends… It was a very bad feeling inside. There was no one to talk to. I didn’t have any friends and I felt so alone. Hakim - Mentee
Hakim was referred to Hope for the Young when he was 18 years old. He was soon matched with his mentor, Muzzy, who works as an operations manager at a global engineering company. A big believer in the power of effective mentoring, Muzzy was excited to start working with Hakim to navigate the challenges he was facing.
At the beginning, Hakim and Muzzy found the language barrier between them quite challenging. They soon got into the swing of things, though, and Hakim’s English started to improve quickly as they met each week and worked on improving Hakim’s conversational English and growing his confidence. Muzzy also supported Hakim with learning to use his laptop and type in English.
Muzzy helped me a lot with English and speaking. If there’s a problem, he helped me. Muzzy and me together. Hakim - Mentee
Before, he was a bit lost. But now, he can say ‘I am a student, I am learning, I am my own person’. Muzzy - Mentor
Hakim also wanted to start a new sports activity to meet new people, and expressed an interest in boxing. Keen boxer Muzzy jumped at the opportunity to introduce Hakim to the sport he loved, and quickly found a local group boxing class for Hakim to attend. Muzzy was delighted to see that Hakim absolutely loved the classes, and gained a massive confidence boost from attending. With Muzzy’s support, Hakim also began playing football each week. He is now regularly attending boxing and football, where he has made lots of new friends of many different nationalities.
He helped me find boxing and football… I have made friends, Afghani and Ukrainians, we all play together. Hakim - Mentee
Another of Hakim’s goals was to get into college. When he started mentoring with Hope for the Young, Hakim wasn’t in education and wasn’t receiving any formal English support. With Muzzy’s support, Hakim found, applied, and successfully enrolled in college. Muzzy also supported Hakim to apply for a grant from Hope for the Young’s Grants & Advocacy Programme, which has supported him with the cost of travelling to college.
Whilst they were working together, Hakim received his refugee status, meaning that he is able to work and access further education. Hakim has now set his sights on becoming an electrician. He hopes to study a course in Electronic Engineering once he finishes college, which will allow him to achieve his dream.
I want to become an electrician. Muzzy helped me a lot with so many things. My English is better, and I am in college now. Hakim - Mentee
Supporting Hakim to grow, develop, and achieve his goals was also a rewarding experience for Muzzy, who learnt a lot from mentoring:
I learnt a lot about being a better human and the importance of having empathy... I really enjoyed the experience. It was great to work towards goals, and to start seeing improvements over time. It was really a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience. Muzzy - Mentor
From starting college, learning English, joining sports groups and making friends, to setting a solid foundation for Hakim’s long-term career choices, Hakim and Muzzy’s mentoring relationship is a testament to the power of mentoring to change a young person’s life.
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