In early 2017, Bolton Lads & Girls Club introduced its RISE (Refugee, Integration, support and Engagement) Project, with the aim of improving cross-cultural integration via the supported engagement of young refugees in positive activities.

Refugee and asylum-seeking children in Britain are a very diverse group. Some may arrive in the UK with one or both parents, or they may arrive in the care of older siblings or relatives. Some refugee children arrive alone as unaccompanied minors.

Since the employment of our Refugee Engagement Officer, we have established a robust referral system with key agencies working with Refugees across Bolton. These include but are not limited to several of the local primary and secondary schools, BRASS, ACIS and The Destitution Centre. In addition to these, RISE works with many of the local community groups to break down fears that many families in the area have.

To date, over 70 young people between the ages of 8-19 years old have been referred to us with several more waiting to be processed. RISE is able to support these young people integrate through the clubs existing programmes such as the National Citizens Programme, Employability, Football and some parents have even expressed an interest in volunteering to advance their social and language skills.

We are able to facilitate sessions at the club where new families in the area are able to come and visit us with staff at hand to help explain what we have to offer their young people. With many barriers in place, with language being the most prominent when communicating, RISE has been able to deliver activities that encourage cross-cultural integration with the club’s outreach and onsite sessions including sports, arts and employability as well as supporting young refugees to join existing targeted projects such as Young Leaders (Volunteering) and Mentoring (for emotional wellbeing) for example.

Rise has enabled us to host skills workshops that has help young refugees embed language skills and cultural norms and thus alleviating worries and concerns refugee parents may have had.

Once a young person is referred to us we then take a holistic approach to their needs here at the club which may incorporate a buddy system with members already at the club to help them settle in, life skills and employability sessions for those that are older as well as Key Health and Wellbeing sessions in which we would identify any further need and signpost if necessary.

With the ultimate goal of BLGC becoming a more welcoming environment to young refugees with improved peer integration and reduced barriers between communities and will share its learning across the youth sector. RISE will be engaging with 120 refugee young people over a three-year period, the RISE Project is hopeful of helping young refugees feel less isolated within their communities and improving their emotional wellbeing.

For more information about RISE, please contact Stephen on Stephen.Worden@blgc.co.uk