Advice and Support
In response to the Covid/coronavirus pandemic, we launched a support programme in March 2020. There was/is a real risk of very vulnerable individuals having no food, feeling even more isolated, or being forced into exploitative situations. We met this crisis with kindness and courage, and offered/are continuing to offer:
- Food delivery and financial support to those with less than £35/week, as well as to anyone having to isolate
- Clothing – for women and babies, especially
- Laptops, tablets and phones so that people can stay connected and access Shpresa’s services via Zoom, text, email and WhatsApp, and young people can continue their studies
- Data packages for phone and internet access
- Peer-to-peer support
- Befriending and Storytelling programmes, where individuals (especially lone, young people) and families are regularly contacted by DBS checked volunteers who offer support via regular phone, text or video contact, and storytelling over Zoom
- Help with accessing small grants.
A rapid response fundraiser on JustGiving was also set up as a means of generating essential funds:
- £9 provides medicine for one person, not exempt from prescription charges due to their immigration status
- £10 provides phone credit for one month for a child or young person who is living alone in hostel accommodation so they can keep in contact with Shpresa staff and volunteers who are their only family
- £35 provides shopping for a week to enable a family of four to eat healthily
- £50 enables us to provide food and phone credit for two young people with the virus for a week.
Shpresa works with MiCLU (Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit) on the Breaking the Chains (link to Project page within our site) project, which focuses on strategies to improve the prospects of Albanian children making successful protection claims in the UK. It has brought together specialist barristers, solicitors and academics to consider how legal professionals and others can ensure that children from Albania are granted meaningful protection against the risks of return to abuse in their country of origin, or further exploitation in this one.
Albania is a source country for one of the largest groups of trafficked women and children to reach UK shores, and is consistently in the top 5 or 6 child asylum applicant producing countries in relation to child asylum seekers in the UK. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Albania – who have been trafficked or who are fleeing threats or violence – arrive in the UK every year, destitute, exhausted and traumatised. However the government’s approach to Albanian children and young people’s asylum claims does not accord with the reality on the ground in Albania: these very vulnerable young people have a less than 0.5% chance of securing protection from the Home Office when they seek asylum in the UK.
The project consists of a 5 point approach to providing specialist advice and support to the most vulnerable asylum seeking children in the UK:
- Support and identification
- Expert triage and prioritisation for acute casework service
- Acute child-centred casework service
- General engagement and empowerment programme including provision of child-friendly information
- Immigration Champions ‘Voice of the Child’ engagement and empowerment programme
UK integration support
Shpresa works so that the Albanian-speaking community can positively integrate into UK society. We help them so that they can understand and access the universal services available, obtain training and find work, and feel socially part of a community
We want Albanian speakers living here to feel settled, safe and confident. We support them to adapt so that they can re-establish their lives – lives where they can vote, feel less isolated, take an active role in caring for their community and environment, and are happy.
Essential to our success is our partnership work with specialist providers who offer further support and training. This enables Shpresa service users to take part in courses that will help them to find work. This training often takes place on our premises (teaching assistant (TA) training is one example), so that we can further support our users by providing child care or crèche. Training like this is then followed up with work experience, which we can provide in-house at Shpresa, or through our partnerships with local schools.
Recently arrived in the UK or finding life difficult? We are here to help you. Please get in touch today: