Supporting refugee and asylum seeking children and young people
It may be that your church, community or school - or even your own home - is welcoming children, young people and their families fleeing conflict. This page is designed to help you think about how best you can support them, help them to feel safe and ensure they have as warm a reception as possible.
When seeking to support refugee and asylum-seeking children and young people, please make sure you have read the section of the Ukraine Toolkit on Safeguarding Considerations.
Be aware of the affects of trauma
All refugees arriving from Ukraine or elsewhere will have lived through a considerable amount of trauma. The impact of this can manifest itself in children and young people in many different ways. Effects could include (but are not limited to) tiredness, lack of concentration/focus, poor short-term memory, poor academic performance, physical and mental ill health, nightmares, panic attacks, struggling to make friends, irritability and 'tantrums'. For those who have left homes and loved ones behind, the trauma may also not be over yet.
In order to best support refugee and asylum-seeking children, you need to be as trauma-informed as possible. Here are some good places to start:
- YoungMinds offers an excellent resource page for supporting refugee and asylum seeking children.
- This PDF document from Trauma Treatment International offers a good outline summary of what to expect and how to help.
- From the UK Trauma Council, a short article on supporting refugee and asylum-seeking children, including further signposting.
- Two free online courses are available from Future Learn. The first is Youth mental health: supporting young people using a trauma informed practice (in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation). The second is Psychological first aid: supporting children and young people (in partnership with the UK Health Security Agency).
- The Refugee Trauma Initiative offers several activity guides to help children and young people express thoughts and feelings.
- Watch this short video from the Children, Youth and Family Team, which tells you how to offer first aid in the case of a panic attack:
A few more simple ideas to get started:
- Learn a few key phrases so that you can speak with the children and young people in their own language.
- Find out what food they like to eat, you could even learn a traditional Ukrainian recipe (although don't always assume that just because it's a national dish they are going to love it).
- Teach yourself the rules to some fun Ukrainian playground games.
- Familiarise yourself with some Ukrainian pop music, courtesy of Spotify.
Remember that these are just suggestions for ways in which we can show we care and start conversations. Not every person from Ukraine will like the same food, games or music! Make sure you ask about their favourites.