16-year-old Christina, a college student studying Graphic Design, entered this competition as art is her pride and passion. Her wonderful set of drawings are inspired by her Ethiopian Heritage: Image 1 is an illustration of a beautiful woman covered in a traditional Ethiopian scarf (netela) with the Amharic fonts above translated to peace. With the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, she wanted to use her talent & this opportunity to raise awareness about this and bring attention to how we need to spread peace as a community. She adds that she looks up to a lot of Ethiopian artists, the likes of Addis Gebru, a famous artist that illustrates the rich culture of Ethiopia. She is a young driven artist with ambitions & hopes to dominate the graphic design industry.
We also introduce our other winner, 18-year-old Mohammed who is of Syrian background. Much like Christina, he has a passion for the arts as observed in the piece he entered. He takes an abstract approach to what we asked, explaining that ‘…. I was thinking about thriving families and about how people start one, but first nurturing them the best they can until the young ones are independent enough to fly from the nest…’ This approach he took signifies that even the young in our community understand the need and crucial importance of a thriving family to the development of children. In addition to Art, he likes to take up new hobbies every week, for instance, he also loves reading, writing, photography & also basketball. However, his main focus is an academic path into the science world & he hopes to study physics. Nevertheless, he definitely has the making of Leonardo da Vinci (An artist & scientist). He wants to pass his gratitude to Mr. Seigfried & those who have supported and encouraged him to follow through with his passion.
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on a lot of people ranging across all age groups, genders, ethnicities & different backgrounds. However, the brunt of this burden is significantly prevalent in a lot of refugees, asylum seekers & migrant communities. More specifically, a lot of parents in these communities have and are struggling to support their children’s home learning during lockdown and school closures.
Here at URP, we are deeply concerned about the barriers that these families face. Therefore, through the creation of the Thriving families project, we hope that this urgent response will heed to prevent the worsening educational inequalities resulting from Covid-19, based on the recommendations from our research.
Part of raising awareness of this project is enabling the public to volunteer, donate or share our cause to their respective spheres. In addition to these strategies, we have introduced a concept of selling inspired gifts (tote bags) that will be used to help fund this project. In keeping our commitment to unleashing refugee potential, we have designed a ‘For Refugees By Refugees’ system where we source out refugee creators, not only to have an inspirational touch to the products, but also ensure that they are recognized for their creations. Our recent Thriving Families Art Competition has received an amazing engagement where a plethora of young refugee artists entered & shared their creations that followed through with the theme of ‘Thriving Families’. After a long and hard decision, we are proud to say that we managed to choose our two winners who have won the grand prize of £250, vouchers and their names printed on the tote bag, next to their creations.
Soon enough, we hope that the making and selling of these tote bags will enable us to keep our project running and supporting young refugee students at schools with home learning equipment. In addition, we hope through weekly one-to-one online tuition will give these students an opportunity to catch up and improve their academic outcomes.
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The past week has been rewarding and optimistic, as we delivered devices to young students across Leeds. Despite this initial success, there are still many more families left to reach. If interested, please visit the links below, to see how you can get involved.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all families, especially those from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. Consequently, this has significantly influenced the learning and academic developments of these children. This is due to various reasons mentioned in our recent research report, including the lack of home learning equipment.
The government has delivered IT equipment to Local Authorities and academy trusts during summer 2020; to provide families, children and young adults who most need it and who do not have access to these items. Additionally, funding was provided to schools and Local Authorities to help support this vulnerable group access home learning equipment. However, many families are still struggling to gain access to these support systems & learning materials. In addition, families with refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds may also not have the capability to understand or be aware that such support is available.
Here at URP, we have initiated the Thriving Families project to provide refugee and asylum-seeking families with IT equipment and weekly one-to-one tuition support. To ensure this project’s sustainability, we have collaborated with Leeds Libraries, Leeds City Council, and LEx (Lived Experience Movement) to provide our clients with devices. Through O2’s Community Calling campaign, two of our beneficiaries received refurbished iPhones with 6GB data monthly and free texts and calls for 12 months. LEx provided some of our beneficiaries on Thriving Families with refurbished laptops to help with their home learning and online tuition.