Last month, Refugee Education UK (REUK) published their second report on the effect of COVID-19 on young refugees. They conducted qualitative consultations with 10 frontline staff, who shared their experiences supporting young refugees during this difficult period.
The report aims to highlight the experiences of refugee students to ensure that their needs are prioritised as the UK Government implements their education recovery package.
The recomendations below are an executive summary.
Central government should:
● Ensure that refugee students are specifically identified as a priority group.
● Extend the age range of the National Tutoring package to those aged 16-19.
● Fund mental health and wellbeing support that is accessible to refugee students.
Local authorities should:
● Provide refugee students with adequate access to data and digital technology to enable online learning.
Education institutions should:
● Provide comprehensive technology support for refugee students.
● Ensure summer ‘catch-up’ programmes prioritise refugee young people’s education and wellbeing.
● Make online enrolment more accessible to refugee students.
The voluntary sector should:
● Prioritise access to mental health and wellbeing interventions for refugee young people.
● Develop initiatives that create opportunities for refugee young people to catch up on lost learning.
● Prioritise the funding of comprehensive and holistic mental health and wellbeing interventions for refugee young people.
● Support initiatives that create opportunities for refugee young people to catch up on lost learning
“COVID-19 has exacerbated mental health conditions and psychosocial wellbeing challenges faced by many refugee and asylum-seeking young people. ” Key wellbeing challenges have included:
● Increased safeguarding concerns
● Isolation and loneliness
● Protracted asylum claims and living in limbo
● Exam-related anxieties and stresses
● Challenges for the protective function of schools
“Multiple stresses have accumulated over the course of the pandemic, triggering a greater overall negative effect on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Concurrently, schools, colleges and universities and other key systems on which young refugees most often engage (including the NHS, local authorities and the Home Office) have experienced severe capacity challenges as a result of the pandemic and have been limited in the care and support that they have been able to provide young refugees.”
For more detail on each recommendation, please read the full report.