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Young migrant's project at Bottisham

This project took place in Bottisham, Burwell and Soham Locality as a piece of partnership working with the EAL Co-ordinator at Soham Village College.

Nikki King, Youth Development Co-ordinator initially met with young migrants attending the college during sessions in and after-school and an application was made to the Red Cross Positive Images fund for an art project which was successful.

During the project young people played icebreakers and took part in activities designed to help them get to know one another. Many of the games focused on communication and working together. Young people were asked how they felt about being a young migrant. Many told us it could be isolating at first arriving in a school with little or no English and not understanding the systems.

12 young people chose to regularly participate following the introduction session these young people were from Poland, Portugal, Germany, Zimbabwe and Lithuania. Using the Positive Images toolkit for inspiration we focused on culture and identity by using the activities ‘Who am I ? Where am I from?’ . The young people focused on finding the meaning of their given name and who named them . This encouraged them to share stories and think about their identity. We then mapped the countries people were from and in groups young people shared stories of why they had migrated – if they did not know they were encouraged to ask their parents. Having introduced the idea of identity the group looked at images which represented their culture . Young people identified that culture could be understood in lots of ways, such as: fashion, music , place of origin, family customs , food etc. From this activity the young people decided to create ‘Tree of Culture ’ using art techniques to share with other young people in the school. After trying different art mediums they decided they wanted to screen print a banner and an artist worked with them through workshops to achieve this.

The piece of art work is now displayed in the school with interpretation boards highlighting individual stories behind the images. Young people were shy about leading an assembly and instead the banner has been on display in school during Year 7’s end of term party, where it was a talking point. Young migrants are using it break their silence. As a result of this project in September the group have decided to start up their own support group and older members of the group will be trained as volunteer mentors to new students arriving at the school .

Comments from the young people :

" I want people to know we are different , but I am still just like them "

" Please can we work together again"

" I have made a friend and I am happy "

Comments from workers:

" It is amazing to see the young people getting to know one another and feeling confident to share their feelings of isolation"

" The project has opened my eyes to some of the challenges young migrants have to handle when starting school with little or no English and how unwelcoming that might feel "

" I think being able to challenge the negativity some of the young migrants have experienced amongst their peer group and having time to talk about it with others has helped their confidence and made them feel empowered"


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