Practical support for refugees

Charlotte Goddard
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Project enables young refugees and people seeking asylum to become active and valued members of their communities.


Surviving to Thriving


£1m from the People's Postcode Lottery


The Refugee Council, Red Cross and social action charity Up Rising joined forces to develop Surviving to Thriving, which launched in April 2017 to offer a combination of therapy, practical support and community engagement activity for young refugees and asylum seekers. It currently operates in Birmingham, Luton and Leeds.


The programme has three elements: the Refugee Council's My View; UpRising's Find Your Power; and one-to-one casework and group sessions delivered by the Red Cross with teams co-located in each area. Young people can enter the programme through any of the three projects and progress to any of the others. Participants range between 14 and 25 in age with most aged 17. Many self-refer, coming along with a friend. Others are referred by social workers, foster carers, or voluntary sector organisations such as the Children's Society.

My View aims to help young refugees address their trauma. Qualified therapists deliver a combination of creative therapy such as drama and art therapy and one-to-one counselling.

The Red Cross offers one-to-one practical support, and weekly or fortnightly groups to help young people understand their rights around issues such as education and the asylum process. The groups also offer help with life skills such as cooking on a budget and online safety, plus creative and physical activities.

Finally, Find Your Power is a nine-week programme to introduce young people to the idea of social action campaigning as a means to develop leadership skills and community engagement. "They explore issues such as loneliness and discrimination, and create a film to share their experiences and the change they would like to see," says Kalyani McCarthy, national project manager at the Red Cross. The Red Cross uses the films as part of training for social workers and mental health professionals across the UK.


To date, 318 young people have been referred to one of the services and 237 have accessed one or more. The aim is for the programme to reach 500 people by the end of its second year. Young people attending the programme originate from 25 different countries, most commonly Sudan, followed by Eritrea and Afghanistan.

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