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Bridges to New Beginnings

Today’s guest blog is by Dinah Beckett who works for Migration Yorkshire as the regional coordinator for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Dinah has been involved in the Youth Partnership, which brings together the Council of Europe and the European Union and they invited her to share her experience with other experts from across Europe.

Together with Vanja Celebicic I was pleased to attend the ‘Bridges to New Beginnings’ seminar held by the Youth Partnership on the 4th and 5th December 2018. The seminar looked at how cross-sectoral work could be used to support young asylum seekers and refugees across Europe. It brought together practitioners from more than 20 countries to listen to each other, learn about young people’s experiences in other places and come up with innovative and interesting solutions to the complex issues of working with young people positively in a context of hostile immigration policies across Europe.

We were pleased to suggest other participants, including Nola Pugh and Gulwali Parssalay of My Bright Kite, a Leeds based organisation which combines youth work with young refugees and awareness raising in schools. Gulwali shared his experience of travelling from Afghanistan to the UK as an unaccompanied child 10 years ago.

We were also pleased to hear from Majd Khalifeh, the son of Palestinian refugees in Syria who had himself sought asylum in Belgium and has since become a successful journalist and documentary maker, not to mention an engaging and eloquent public speaker.

We were asked to consider in groups how an imaginary town, Benekula, could deal with a sudden increase of arrivals of young asylum seekers. This experience was very real to colleagues from Italy, Greece and Malta in particular. In one team of people from the UK, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Greece, Belgium and Slovenia we found by sharing ideas and best practice from our own settings, we came up with a solution which could consider a young person’s wider needs and help them to integrate quickly.

We found Strasbourg to be a be a beautiful city, full of light and well worth a visit.

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