Anyone who wants to know why attitudes towards refugee children are changing should consult Shared Futures.
‘Shared Futures’ is a new DVD and education resource pack developed by the charity Salusbury WORLD (funded by Comic Relief). It is aimed at all practitioners working to support the integration of young refugees and asylum seekers, whether teachers, youth and community workers, or those running after-school clubs and study support activities. Shared Futures, which showcases some of the most innovative educational initiatives today, from London, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Bolton, Newcastle and Bristol, comes in the form of an easily navigable DVD (based on video clips) and an attractively designed resource pack. The nine chapters tackle themes ranging from ‘Supporting friendship’ and ‘Tackling media myths’ to ‘Promoting success in school’ and ‘Involving parents and carers’. There are countless ideas for teachers for training activities and, at the end of the pack, are resource sheets that can be photocopied for training sessions. There is also a website with more ideas for developing Shared Futures for work in local areas.
What I particularly like about Shared Futures is the centrality it gives to the voices of young people. The early chapters introduce us to some of the refugee children – such as Sergey, from Ukraine, Siddy, from Guinea or Zsanett, from Sudan – whose experiences help set the agenda. These young refugees, and others, pop up again in the video clips supporting subsequent chapters. But ‘indigenous’ children also take a central role as they engage and evaluate the projects they have been involved in. What emerges from the maturity and sensitivity displayed by both sets of children feels special. These children’s ability to empathise with displaced children from all parts of the world seems to come as naturally as breathing.
Shared Futures is a great educational resource. But it is also a testimony to those dedicated and hard-working teachers and youth workers whose commitment to inclusive education has helped nurture a new generation of model citizens.