The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected young people’s lives, physically, emotionally and mentally. Before the crisis, mental health was not seen as that important. Now we know how critical it is for young people everywhere.
Even those who seemed well prepared have not been able to cope and many have sought help. Young refugees and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable people in the UK right now. Most live alone or in a shared accommodation with others like them. They have to face physical, mental and emotional challenges alone on top of those they already had, such as poverty, and poor access to basic services including suitable accommodation, education and employment.
The KRAN Youth Forum is a place where young refugees and asylum seekers have come together to tackle these obstacles together. I have been surprised at the ways young refugees have coped. Despite limitations that make it difficult for them to get online, they have come up with great ideas to fight loneliness. They have created new social networks between themselves despite not all speaking the same language. They have found new ways to communicate effectively and learn from one another. For example, they arranged to watch English language movies with different language subtitles, started their own competitions around art, dance and singing, and joined various online youth groups to learn about UK culture.
While the pandemic has not been easy for anyone, many young refugees have shown that together, they can be very resilient and share their coping skills with others. The KRAN Youth Forum has become one of the most important places for young refugees and asylum seekers and will continue to be an important space. It has helped us to cope and to see that together, we are strong.