Reflections from an ESOL tutor. A guest blog post from Mercedes Richardson.

The role of a teacher during the Covid pandemic

I have been working with young unaccompanied minors for around 10 years in my capacity as an ESOL lecturer on the 16+ programme at the Anniesland campus of Glasgow Clyde College. Since I’ve been involved with this particular group of young learners there have been a lot of changes; both worldwide and closer to home, in terms of world politics, global issues, Brexit, advancements in technology, changing social norms and a shift in the college ethos and management. Despite the changes, a lot has remained the same too, such as the basic role of a teacher: to help, support and educate all the students that present in front of them in the classroom regardless of educational background, aptitude, gender, religion, nationality or personal ideologies. I felt that my role as an ESOL teacher hadn’t changed despite outside influences that is until Covid….. 

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Reflections on caring for an unaccompanied asylum seeker

A guest blog post by Maura Daly & Mark Smith

We are both experienced social workers, now social work academics. For almost thirty years, we have been respite carers for disabled children. Following from Alf Dubbs’ brokering the deal to bring unaccompanied asylum seeking children [UASC] to the UK from the Calais Camps in 2016, our local authority took five boys. They were initially housed together in a residential care unit before the local authority put out a call to respite carers asking if they might extend their remit to take one of the boys. Our personal circumstances at that point were such that we could do so, so we agreed and within a few weeks Bona*, a sixteen-year-old African boy, had moved in with us. Four and a half years later, he has just completed his second year at university in a different city but, like our own kids, is back and forward and is very much part of our family.

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The Scottish Guardianship Service perspective on the project

a guest blog post by Stefan Smith from our study partner the Scottish Guardianship Service

The Scottish Guardianship Service has been running for ten years and currently supports over 380 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people. Each young person is allocated a Guardian who understands the asylum process and is there to support them to attend and understand legal and home office appointments, plus assisting with all the various things that can come up in their lives. The Scottish Guardianship Service also offers mental health support and a befriending service with specialised staff in these areas. In my role, I help to organise participation activities for young people such as extra English language support, art, music and sport. Another key feature of the participation work is giving young people a platform to have their voices heard.

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‘Dwelling in Positivity’: Telling Covid Stories through Art

In the previous post we discussed conducting interviews with separated children and the professionals supporting them. On the 24th February we started another part of the study, art- based intervention workshops, and we have been busy since. As we near the end of these workshops, we are collecting young people’s artwork and preparing to share study outcomes during our 17th June Conference. In this post, we offer a peek behind the stage, and a preview of what these sessions were like for the young people, and us.

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Working with separated children as a legal representative

A Guest Post by Farida Elfallah, an Associate Solicitor at JustRight Scotland, a legal human rights organisation.

At JustRight Scotland, through our Scottish Refugee and Migrant Centre, we provide a child-centred legal service for refugee and migrant children.  We have a collaboration with the Scottish Guardianship Service (SGS) to provide legal advice, support and advocacy for separated children seeking protection in Scotland. 

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Making and Breaking Connections

Our project started in November, and we have since made good headway. We have conducted most of the interviews with separated children, professionals from the Scottish Guardianship Service, social workers, legal representatives and ESOL teachers and their residential care workers and foster carers. As we are now preparing for the arts-based intervention workshops – which start on the 24th February – we would like to share some notes from our work so far. 

Some of the connectivity obstacles and limitations that we set out to research are the same ones that we encounter in our daily project work. These are the key ones we came across: 

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