Leicestershire Cares and the Centre Point’s Freedom Club took fourteen unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people to the theme park and zoo, Drayton Manor in Staffordshire on 20 August 2019.
The trip was funded by Leicestershire Cares, and was a chance to take the young people from the humdrum of daily life to experience something that none of them had ever done before. The trip to Drayton Manor allowed the young people to face their fears of heights and speed, let them socialise in new surroundings, got them outside and clocked up the miles walking around.
Conquering fears can foster confidence and improve self-esteem and taking young people out of their usual environment stimulates their curiosity and imagination.
The young people took the opportunity to transcend British cultural norms and communicate and interact with other patrons at the park, shouting out to people on the rides that were coming to an end, asking if it was good or if it was scary. Often receiving a surprised and confused face, but always getting an answer back.
The Freedom club works with unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people that have arrived in their mid-teen years and have been separated from parents or customary care givers. Many of the young people were socially isolated before finding a regular place to hang out and mix with others that have experienced similar situations.
Some of the young people who were on the trip were very new to the country and had never experienced the thrill of a theme park with their friends. We also had members within the group who would only stick to their friendship group or only interact with other young people from their country of origin or religion. By the end of the day the group felt more cohesive and young people were interacting with each other regardless of friendship groups, language barriers or religion.Cara Perry, Freedom Club Youth Worker
On the way home the young people were showcasing the different music they listened to. We felt that this was important as they were comfortable enough to share their culture with us and give us a window into their interests and beliefs”.
Yaseer, 17 from Syria said: “It was fantastic. It was the first time I have been to a theme park”.
Ergys, 16, Albania said: “I really enjoyed it. I was able to spend time with my friends during the summer”.
Mazin, 15, Sudan: “I liked spending time with my friends and playing the games. I really enjoyed seeing the animals in the zoo” .
Regis, 15, Albania. “It was really good fun day and I got to know other people within the group”.
Adam, 15 Sudan. “I really like the dodgems and banging into my friends…it was great fun” .
The Freedom club provides an opportunity for young people to meet other people and be part of the community.
There is a social drop-in sessions for 13-19 year olds, targeting mainly unaccompanied asylum seeking young people and refugees on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5.00pm to 8.00pm.
Leicestershire Cares is currently running the VOICES project with the Freedom Club. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.