The response to these threats, however, has in recent times sought to blame a distinct group of vulnerable individuals who experience life-threatening struggles on a daily basis: refugees. Media coverage in particular has painted refugees in a negative light, suggesting they are somehow dangerous, or a burden on the countries in which they seek refuge.
Meanwhile, ‘the worst humanitarian crisis of our time’ continues in Syria, and the world is facing the largest movement of refugees since World War II. Even for those granted asylum in Europe, their struggle is far from over. Refugees often face discrimination and significant barriers to education and integration.
Amid such complex and emotional issues, it can be hard to know where solutions can start. But by better understanding the everyday experiences of refugees, people within our country and other host communities can help refugees and asylum seekers integrate, and better direct resources to assist them. .
“A Refugee Like Me”, a Wonder project, aimed to achieve this by engaging young people and their refugee counterparts across Europe in influencing decision-makers to help welcome refugees across schools, universities and communities.
As a result of the project’s success, Wonder now offers workshops to engage younger students in the same issues, and I have been happy to be part this. The “Refugee Like Me” school workshops use interactive presentations and discussions to build solidarity among young people in the UK, in the hope of increasing their understanding and empathy towards those less fortunate than themselves. The workshops involve a brief introduction, outlining the definitions that the UN and other governing bodies place on refugees and migrants, distinguishing their differing characteristics. We then present a scenario which puts the pupils in the shoes of a refugee: