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Refugee Week 2022: Listening to Young People’s Voices

20
Jun
2022

By Nadia Stuart – Participation Officer, Scottish Refugee Council

Learning new skills, having their voices heard and meeting other young people. These are some of the aims of a new group at the Scottish Guardianship Service, a partnership between Aberlour Children’s Charity and The Scottish Refugee Council. Young People’s Voices have been meeting at least once a month since November 2021 to discuss issues that matter to the young people who are a part of the Scottish Guardianship Service. The topics discussed have ranged from access to education, support, health, Home Office procedures and many more. I caught up with Muath to find out what being a member of the Young People’s Voices Group is like.  

 

“Hi Muath, how did you feel about YPV when it began? Do you remember the first meeting you came to?” 

I remember. I thought it was just going to be a group for learning English and to get information. At the first meeting, we looked at pictures, and I chose one about football to talk about. I didn’t expect that we would get to meet important people like the Children’s Commissioner, the Police and the Home Office.  

 

“What do you think of the group now?” 

It has helped us to improve ourselves. I feel more confident speaking to people now. Before, I wouldn’t have been able to speak to important people. With the group, I feel more confident about talking to others. It has also helped me to understand other people and feel for them. We share our stories and learn about each other’s cultures and experiences. It helps me improve my English, but people don’t care if I make mistakes or find it hard to explain what I mean in English. People just care about hearing my ideas, not my ethnicity, language or where I’m from. The group also helps me to understand my rights. Before, I thought that because I am an asylum seeker, I don’t have the right to speak up about my problems. Now I know that I have the right to speak about the things that are important to me. It sounds very serious, but we have fun as well, we are always laughing and making jokes. We’ve been to restaurants together too. 

 

“What’s been your favourite moment so far?” 

My favourite moment was when we met the Home Office [Muath attended a meeting of the Home Office’s Young People’s Board in Scotland] because my status is my biggest problem right now. It’s a big problem for many other young people. Our group represents young people from Guardianship, so I think it’s important to speak up for them too.  

 

“What do you think the group will achieve in the future?” 

I would like our group to have the power to change things for young asylum seekers living in Scotland. It’s really important that we have the right to talk about our problems. My aim would be that everyone would know about their rights. I’d love for the group to meet the First Minister. I’d tell her about how young people need activities as we have at Guardianship. My body arrived in Scotland, but I felt like I had lost my mind on the way. Young people like me need to learn, have fun and take part in activities. I think I’d ask her if she can make it easier for asylum seekers to study as well. We need the education to build our futures and reach our goals.