Children and Young People

Skylark Refugees

Supporting refugees through the summer HAF programme

Essex ActivAte extended its offer to a number of refugee children who were staying at the Skylark Hotel in South Essex in summer 2023, to help support their physical and mental wellbeing through engagement in a wide variety of enrichment and physical activities, as well as a free nutritious meal.

Essex currently houses 76 refugee families, each with an average of 5-6 people, and in addition 410 refugees are being accommodated in hotels with limited space and outside areas for children and young people to engage in physical activity. Conversations were held with hosting families and co-ordinators to help support the young refugees through summer HAF clubs across Essex and Thurrock.

 

HAF Whos it for
Who's it for?
Young refugees living in the Skylark Hotel in South Essex
HAF Prime
Prime Objective:
to support the physical and mental wellbeing of young refugees
EA Second
Second Objective:
to help integrate children from different backgrounds into the community
 

Working with the Castle Point and Rochford School Sports Partnership, Finefair and Welcome to the UK, Essex ActivAte were able to provide support to young people living in the Skylark Hotel. Some of the families were already receiving Holiday Activity voucher codes proving eligibility through their schools, however with many young refugees from local hotels not yet registered with school systems, they could receive a 15% discretionary place offered by Essex ActivAte.

The summer programme took place across 16 days during the 4 weeks of holiday clubs, and costs were reduced by sending the children to the nearest club to the hotel. Transport was a key barrier, therefore a minibus was funded to enable the children to get to and from the clubs each day.

 
29
unique refugee children engaged in the summer HAF programme
247
total attendees over the summer holiday
£6,410.94
allocated funding for transport, food and running of the club

This summer programme offer took a collaborative approach between each of the partners involved. Welcome to the UK held the relationship with the families at the hotel and planned a rotation of registers and organised the minibus for the first two weeks. Finefair coordinated the children for the morning pickups, and ensured they were ready to attend the local HAF club and be present on arrival. The Castle Point and Rochford School Sport Partnership ensured qualified staff were present at the club and arranged additional meals and supported on fundraising, whilst South Essex ActivAte shared these responsibilities and sourced the minibus for the final two weeks of clubs.

There were many positive outcomes of the programme in addition to improved physical and mental wellbeing. Even though it was a little challenging at first, children soon integrated from different cultures through physical activity and as the days went on, the instructors were able to adapt the sessions, whereby the children could support each other with language translation and socialising. The young refugees also developed their English language over the 4 weeks and it was clear to see that their physical endurance also improved over the holiday period.

 

Key Learnings

Integration

Integration

Young female refugees enjoyed the activities but integration was slower

Variety

Variety

A wider range of enrichment activities such as dance and crafts need to be offered

Food

Food

Refugees arrived hungry and excess food was sent back to the hotel for families

Barriers

Barriers

Integration was challenging due to language barriers

 
 
 
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