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Bridging the Generation Gap to Produce Peer Mentoring Programmes for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children in Leeds

On 4 September, seven students were awarded Certificates of Attendance for their contribution to the development of a new Peer Mentoring Programme designed to help Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) settle in to life in Leeds.

Bridging the generation gap

As the new academic year gets underway in Leeds, it is also time to celebrate the recent completion of another Carnegie Co-creation Project.

On 4 September, seven students were awarded Certificates of Attendance for their contribution to the development of a new Peer Mentoring Programme designed to help Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) settle in to life in Leeds.

This six-week Co-creation Project was run in partnership by Leeds City Council, the Carnegie School of Education and young people from local colleges. Together, they worked to co-create a meaningful set of resources and tools to help overcome language barriers, reduce feelings of isolation and assist young people in their transition to life in new environments and cultures.

Drawing on the skills and expertise of a cross disciplinary team, the key outputs included the design of a training programme for newly identified mentors, the translation of ‘welcome letters’ and ‘key phrases’ to be used with new mentees, and the identification of key resources in and around Leeds. Dr Doug Martin (Course Director, Carnegie School of Education) provided specialist input in relation to safeguarding young people’s emotional, physical and mental wellbeing; and Dr Anne Temple Clothier (Senior Lecturer, Carnegie School of Education) volunteered her experience stewarding co-creation projects.

Cllr Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Children and Families, Leeds City Council said:

“In Leeds, we are committed to supporting vulnerable children to ensure that they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. This wonderful project is just one of the initiatives we are running in the city to deliver on our ambition to make Leeds the best city for children and young people to grow up in. I am delighted that we are able to work with our dedicated and passionate partners across the city, including children and young people, to really make a positive difference to the lives of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children settling in Leeds.

“We have a long and proud history of welcoming people from all over the world to Leeds, which has helped to shape our city and create such a rich cultural diversity that makes Leeds such a great place to live.”

Osahon Ogieva, Personal Advisor (Children and Families Services), Leeds City Council said:

“It has been an exciting and rewarding opportunity to work with the University. I think we have achieved some outstanding results thanks to the contribution of the specialists, and the young people who volunteered to take part.”

A review of the college students’ evaluations of participating in the process suggests that they found the project challenging but beneficial. Students have made a significant contribution to shaping the design of a programme that has the potential to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people coming to Leeds.

It is anticipated that the partnership between Leeds City Council and the Carnegie School of Education will continue for the next two years, in which time every attempt will be made to further develop and improve this vital project.

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About the Author

Dr Anne-Louise Temple Clothier

Senior Lecturer and Teacher Fellow, with Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy Anne specialises in the English Education and Higher Education Systems.

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