Lack of a community base
Young people entering the UK unaccompanied, and without an established network, can lack a safe community base within which to develop relationships and thrive. This can impact upon not only their ability to develop positive peer networks and meaningful relationships, but can also hamper access to vital services, such as those relating to physical or mental health. This can have negative consequences for their physical and emotional wellbeing, in addition to hampering their ability to engage positively with education, training, or employment. In the long term, this can also impact negatively on their ability to establish economic independence and fulfill their potential within wider society.
Provision of a nurturing and empowering community and facilitating the building of safe relationships with the wider community
Baca’s approach is to build a family environment in which the young people can learn to develop and grow. Although not replacing their lost family, this serves to nurture a sense of belonging – strengthening their confidence and trust in adults – and providing them with the emotional stability needed to develop positive friendships and engage with their wider community. The houses are seen as homes and provide them with a place where they can relax and feel safe – decreasing the likelihood of them absconding from care. House meetings encourage young people to eat together and share, whilst also providing them with a forum to air any frustrations within the home community and to teach them resolution skills. Young people are connected with the different communities they need and linked with relevant places of worship if desired. Baca also facilitate access to other community-based projects and clubs such as local arts, sports or youth clubs. This helps young people to connect to a variety of other young people both from their country of origin, but also from their local community more generally.
Provision of leisure activities, trips and events
Weekly sports sessions are provided to help young people engage both with positive adults and peers and to learn essential skills such as teamwork and conflict resolution. It also provides them with something physical they can do to improve their physical and even mental wellbeing, with positive activities providing a distraction from some of the distressing issues being dealt with by the young people.
Baca also link them with local clubs such as football, cricket, boxing and athletics. This provides the young people with an opportunity to enjoy sport and connect more to the wider community. It also provides them with the opportunity to develop their English. Regular trips to the countryside and seaside are provided. As many young people come from rural areas, this helps them to feel at home in their new environment. Trips to the capital also help them to develop their sense of UK culture and history. Again, it provides them with the opportunity to connect and develop relationships with their peers and connect to their new environment.
Annual celebration events are held where the young people are recognised and praised. Certificates are awarded for attendance and achievement in different workshops and English lessons. This helps to reinforce the importance of education whilst also increasing young people’s confidence and sense of self-efficacy. These events are used to celebrate their cultures and to encourage them to prepare and share dishes from their homeland. This helps them to celebrate who they are, reconnect with their culture of origin and to experience the diversity of cultures within the UK.