Over 200 youth workers were encouraged and equipped to reach out to young asylum seekers and refugees at Engaging Young Refugees: An equipping day for youth workers this Thursday.

The national training day was streamed live from Youthscape Centre in Luton to 10 other community centres and churches across England and Scotland. It was organised by Refugee Support Network (RSN), Church Response For Refugees, and Premier Youth and Children’s Magazine.

This is how the day unfolded as told on social media:

Hannah Elwyn, Programmes Manager at RSN, delivered the training.

The day began with an overview of the ‘refugees crisis’ and what life looks like for young refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Around 3000 unaccompanied children sought asylum status in the UK in 2015, with only 22% receiving refugee status.

Young refugees in the UK live with a complex set of vulnerabilities and challenges, including depression, self-harm, anxiety, PTSD. While they require compassion and companionship of local community, many young refugees in the UK have demonstrated tremendous resilience in being able to persevere through difficult situation and better their lives.

In the second half of the training day, participants were told that education further builds the resilience of young refugees, gives them purpose, and reorientates them towards their future. The training sessions ended with a group discussion around child protection and safeguarding. Participants studied cases of vulnerable children and sought to come up with solutions to support them.

The day also served as a forum for local charities and agencies that already work with refugees to share information about their work to their local community, and connect with youth workers who are keen to help young refugees.  

Hannah said: “We were excited to be part of this first national event of its kind and to connect with youth workers who, like us, want to enable young refugees to build more hopeful futures. It was a privilege for RSN to share our experience and knowledge with such a great group of people and we look forward to seeing this training bear fruit. Our hope and prayer is that the event’s participants will play a central role in understanding, welcoming and serving the unaccompanied asylum children and resettled families who arrive in their communities”

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The hashtag for the event, #YoungRefugees, was widely talked about in social media on the day and came in 11th place on Twitter UK trends during the afternoon.

Jamie Cutteridge, Editor of Premier Youth and Children’s Work Magazine, said: “We know youth workers are a passionate bunch, but it was still really encouraging to see them gather all over the country to grapple with this issue. Watching the #YoungRefugees tweets came in showed the breadth of people seeking to engage with these most vulnerable teenagers.”

Tania Bright, Executive Director of Church Response For Refugees, said: “Churches in the UK are incredibly well-placed to help refugees. We hope that by attending this training day, youth workers at church feel called and enabled to reach out to young refugees and asylum seekers, and show them hospitality and the love of Jesus in action. We have enjoyed working with local and national refugee charities in organising this event, and we look forward to hearing stories of young refugees welcomed and thriving in our communities.”