Working with young asylum seekers in Bournemouth

Louise Bate, our Communications and Engagement Lead, writes about working with young asylum seekers in Bournemouth.

I recently met Jane from International Care Network (ICN) at a children & young people’s mental health event. ICN supports young refugees and asylum seekers in Bournemouth and they were keen to run a workshop on mental health and wellbeing.

Many of the young people ICN supports have suffered trauma and have some mental health issues, combined with cultural and language differences that can make it really hard for them to access the health & care services they need.

To find out more, I ran a joint art workshop at ICN, together with Anna Powney from Dorset Mind. 12 young men, aged between 16 and 20, took part in the session and most of them spoke some English. They came from a variety of countries including Eritrea, China, Syria & Afghanistan.

Anna shared information about the signs and symptoms of mental health and ways to emotionally support yourself and your friends. We had group discussions about how different cultures talk about mental health and emotions and Anna shared handouts and self-help wheels produced by The Participation People in Dorset.

'How do you feel' questions

I encouraged the group to draw & write about their feelings and they produced really thought-provoking artwork and poetry. It was wonderful to see them open up and share how they were feeling and, at the end of the session, we had great feedback from the members of the group:

I didn’t know what this session would be like, but I’m really glad I came – it’s made me feel better.
Piece of writing by one participant about how he feels

It can be so difficult to find the health & care help you need, especially in a new country when you’re learning the language and culture. With the right information and support these young men can start to overcome their difficult backgrounds and create new lives for themselves.

Photo of the group

Thank you to everyone who took part, including Dorset Mind and International Care Network.

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