To achieve sustained recovery from extreme trauma, it is necessary for survivors to not only overcome the problems of the past by treating the physical and psychological impact of trauma but to address the challenge of securing a successful and fulfilling future in the UK. Integration is crucial, as only by reconnecting survivors to other people and re-establishing their place within society can they achieve real recovery. Histories of abuse and isolation often mean that our clients lack the basic life skills required to thrive in communities and very little chance of transitioning into education or employment. On average our clients are 8 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population. This is despite the fact that research with refugees living in Lewisham in London showed that although 72% surveyed were unemployed, only 9% had been so before arrival in the UK.
The Helen Bamber Foundation aims to empower clients to live independently in the community through providing the skills and opportunities to rebuild their self-esteem and self-reliance. We have identified the obstacles faced which prevent integration and developed four key pillars of support to address the needs of refugees, including: life skills, employability and education. The Helen Bamber Foundation has devised a bespoke programme of interventions which will be available to 250 survivors in 2017.
Education is a key part of integration as it allows survivors to learn new skills, gain UK qualifications, meet new people and provides opportunities to engage in their local community. At the Helen Bamber Foundation, we support our client to access education through assisting with applications, seeking funding for courses if necessary and accompanying our clients to initial appointments if desired.
Employment is commonly identified as one of the most significant goals for our clients after they have received their right to work. There are many benefits to this as it fosters independence, self-worth and allows survivors to rebuild their self-esteem. However, there are severe barriers that our clients face and we provide the support to help overcome these. Working in partnership with a number of organisations, we provide CV advice, support to access volunteering and also access to tailored work placements which can help to build our clients confidence and skills.
While it can be hard to quantify how art brings hope and healing to those in crisis, our Creative Arts Programme highlights the power of art as a catalyst for positive change. Through self-expression, the process of creating increases one’s self-esteem and sense of identity. When clients focus on a certain subject and express themselves through art, they tend to more easily forget their daily challenges. Art, in all its forms, seems to have a unique power to help us make sense of past experience.
Our Creative Arts Programmes include:
If you are interested in partnering or volunteering with the Integration Programme please contact Lauren Stewart, our Community Integration Coordinator.