Blog entry by Astrid Dinneen

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by Astrid Dinneen - Monday, 1 July 2019, 10:32 AM
Anyone in the world

EMTAS’s ‘Welcome to Hampshire’ information guide for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) has been updated. By Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Lisa Kalim.


Do you have unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) in your school?  If so I recommend that you have a look here at EMTAS’s newly updated information guide for UASC and encourage your UASC to use this useful resource, perhaps assisting them by printing a copy out for them.  This booklet was written specifically for the young people in our schools who are UASC and aims to help them settle into their new lives in Hampshire as smoothly as possible.  It was first created over ten years ago as a result of feedback received from UASC who had been in our school system for several years and who shared what they wished they had known about when they first arrived.  It has been updated regularly ever since.  It seeks to provide information on various topics that will be relevant to unaccompanied asylum seekers including:

- what happens at each stage of the asylum process

- what their rights and responsibilities are

- housing

- education and schools/colleges/universities

- health care

- working in the UK

- sport and recreation 

- how they can attempt to contact family and friends in their home country including those they have become separated from

- details of organisations that can provide support to them.


It has been written as simply as possible to allow those UASC who are already able to read in English sufficiently to access it independently, either in a printed version or via the online version on our website.  For those who can understand English well but are not yet able to read it to the level required there is also an audio version here.

For those who are unable to access either the written or audio versions in English there are translations available in the three most commonly spoken languages by our UASC here in Hampshire – Arabic, Pashto and Farsi. These can be found here. Please check that your young person is able to read in the relevant language before providing them with this resource as some UASC may not have had the opportunity to learn to read or write in their country of origin due to difficulties with accessing education.  EMTAS hopes to be able to provide audio versions of these translated booklets in the future, starting with Arabic, so keep an eye out on our website.


It is helpful if UASC can be given access to Welcome to Hampshire as soon as possible after their arrival in Hampshire but even if they have already been living here for several months or years it can still be useful to them as they may have forgotten some of what they were told early on or there may just have been too much information for them to take in all at once at a stressful time. Welcome to Hampshire can be referred to by the young person from time to time as needed, for example as they progress through the asylum system and would like a reminder about what will happen next. 


Reading Welcome to Hampshire can also be useful for staff as it will give them an idea of the types of areas that are likely to be important to their UASC and explains the asylum process simply.  It also contains a section on useful contacts which staff may also find helpful if working with UASC. 


At the end of the booklet there is a form on which the young people are invited to give feedback to EMTAS about Welcome to Hampshire.  This feedback is then used to update future versions to ensure that it stays relevant and includes information on everything that the young people feel they need.  I would appreciate it if you could encourage any UASC in your school who use the booklet in whatever format to complete it, with assistance from a member of your school staff if needed.  The young person can write in any language they like, or their views could be scribed for them.  Responses can either be posted to EMTAS’s office in Basingstoke (address is included in Welcome to Hampshire) or sent via email to lisa.kalim@hants.gov.uk.


I’ll end with a quote from a 16 year old UASC from Iran who helpfully provided us with the following feedback:


‘When I first came here, I didn’t know where I should live or what I would do.  This little book helped me to find out what I needed to know.’


[ Modified: Monday, 1 July 2019, 11:19 AM ]
 

  
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