Today we observe International Migrants Day and this year's focus is on stories of social cohesion.
Hightown manages three services for unaccompanied asylum seeking minors – two in Hemel Hempstead and one in Radlett.
These services provide support and accommodation for young migrants immediately after they've arrived in the UK. In some instances the Hightown staff are the first friendly faces the young people have seen in a very long time. These young people are aged between 16 and 17 and have become separated from their close families and have arrived alone in the UK with no parent or guardian. They have often fled their native countries due to civil war or have been trafficked for modern slavery and exploitation. Their journeys are often difficult and they arrive at our door with nothing.
The team behind these services have been nominated, and shortlisted, for the 2020 Housing Heroes Awards for the added value it has provided. This includes the introduction of a programme of workshops designed to prepare young people for adult life in the UK.
When the young people arrive, they are set up with local services such as their GP and dentist. The workshops are then delivered on various topics such as sexual health, relationships and social media. These workshops allow the young people to learn skills necessary to thrive in their local communities.
Additionally, the young people are encouraged to get involved with their new local area, heading out to college and learning English as a second language. The services also host social events in order to allow the young people to engage with each other and the local community, building another fundamental skill they will need to develop; friendship.
There are currently estimated to be 272 million migrants living new lives and building communities in every corner of the globe. We wanted to highlight these important services today, and share how the staff and service users work together there to head towards the future. A future where new communities are encouraged to diversify, and migrants are appreciated. We salute them and we support them. #WeTogether