Professional Eritrean Platform
Da'aro Youth Project: supporting young asylum seekers and refugees from the Horn of Africa
Da'aro Youth Project was established in 2018 by members of the Eritrean community in South London and works to support young refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK from the Horn of Africa. We spoke to Dehab Woldu (Founder and Operational Manager) to find out more.
What inspired the Da'aro Youth Project?
Da'aro Youth was set up in response to the loss of a number of young Eritrean asylum-seekers through suicide between 2017-18. These tragic events shocked the community and following a funeral, a small group of volunteers were brought together to try and provide young refugees and asylum seekers with some support.
In the summer of 2018, we found a venue in London and hosted a dinner for a group of Eritrean and Ethiopian youth with traditional foods, which was incredibly well received. This would later become Injera Club - a weekly youth club based in South London that provides young asylum-seekers a safe space to interact and offers them a sense of community.
What are some of the challenges young asylum-seekers to the UK are facing?
There are many challenges that young asylum-seekers face when arriving in the UK. For many, language barriers make it difficult for young people to access key support services and advocate for themselves when navigating the complex UK immigration process.
The recent changes to UK immigration policies have also presented additional challenges to young asylum-seekers, who are now more likely to be challenged on their age and face long delays in their asylum applications being processed.
All of these issues contribute negatively to young asylum-seekers’ mental health and make it more difficult for them to integrate into a new country and culture. There is still some stigma around mental health within the community so asking for help can be difficult for young people.
What support has Da'aro Youth been able to provide to young people?
Since being established, Injera Club has become a popular weekly social club for 14-21 year old unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee youth from the Horn of Africa. Between 2019 and 2020, a total of 328 young people attended Injera Club, with 2,155 attendances.
In response to a number of requests from young people for help with issues with housing, education, and immigration, Da'aro Youth has also began to provide casework support to young people, giving them support, referrals and guidance.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought particular challenges to newly arrived asylum-seekers, as Injera Club was forced to close due to restrictions, and many were isolated from any sense of community. In response, Da'aro Youth delivered approximately 350 home-cooked food parcels over lockdown to young people. The team also provided young people with supplies of face masks and hand sanitiser, whilst providing clear information on restriction rules and health and safety in Tigrinya, Amharic, and Arabic, and made hundreds of support calls to check-in on the wellbeing of Injera Club attendees.
How can the established diaspora community support this work?
The support of the diaspora community is crucial for Da'aro Youth to be able to continue to grow and serve young people. This can be through volunteering to support youth activity, being a mentor and advocate, or supporting through financial means. See below for ways to support Da'aro Youth's work.
What is the long-term ambition for Da'aro Youth?
Da'aro in Tigrinya is the name of a large tree, as in the official charity logo, and it provides shelter for many. In the same way, Da'aro Youth has helped to provide a sense of community and belonging for many young asylum-seekers. It is my hope that we are able to reach more young people across London, and hopefully the UK over the coming years - but we will need the support of the wider community to make this ambition a reality.
HOW TO SUPPORT DA'ARO YOUTH:
VOLUNTEER: Volunteer with Da'aro Youth to support Injera Club, youth mentoring and other charity activities here.
DONATE: Fundraise for Da'aro Youth or consider donating to support the charity via Local Giving here.
MEMBERSHIP: Help to shape the direction of the organisation by becoming a member here.
See Da'aro Youth's latest published annual report for full details (English version, Tigrinya version), and website at www.daaroyouth.org.uk.