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Students Inspire Coventry Refugees, and Not Just For Refugee Week

Originally published 15 June 2004

Events are set to take place throughout the UK during Refugee Week (14-20 June 2004), however, students from the University of Warwick run a unique and on-going youth group in Coventry that gives young refugees and asylum seekers the chance to socialise, celebrate their culture and develop their life-skills, almost all year-round.

Jigsaw is for 11 to 16 year old refugee teenagers, and is created and run by students, in conjunction with Coventry Refugee Centre. The unique project focuses exclusively on refugees and concentrates on their specific needs.

Students organise and run regular activities such as creative writing, bowling, kite making, basketball, and craft projects. The project helps the young refugees by developing teamwork skills, raising self-confidence and broadening their horizons.

Jigsaw acts to raise awareness and understanding of refugee issues in the local community, and helps the teenagers' integration and well being within their community. As well providing activities, the youth group enables the teenagers to meet people their own age and individuals they can relate their experiences to. It helps build the confidence of the young people and encourages their gradual move towards independence.

Lucy Strike, University of Warwick student and Project Coordinator, said: “Jigsaw involves refugees from diverse countries, including Somalia, Pakistan, Albania, Afghanistan and Kurdistan. The mix of sports, crafts and other entertainment caters for a wide range of different interests. The project is very rewarding as it enables me to make a direct and positive difference to the lives of young people.”

“Students contribute to the local community and get experience of working with youths as well as an awareness of refugee issues. The students look after the children throughout visits, picking them up and taking them home. It fills a gap for the students as well as the children, as many of them would not normally come into contact with asylum seekers or refugees.”

Training is delivered to students involved in the youth group by Warwick Volunteers and Coventry Refugee Centre on general issues surrounding refugees as well as guidance on working with young people.

Warwick Volunteers currently has around 1200 members and they provide opportunities for students and staff at the University to volunteer and help disadvantaged groups in Coventry. They run a range of diverse projects that involve working with children and adults from all backgrounds, from the homeless to schoolchildren, from refugees to the elderly.

For more information contact:
Jenny Murray, Communications Office,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 02476 574 255,
Mobile: 07876 217740

Lucy Strike,
Mobile: 07817 776 514

Refugee Week runs each year to celebrate the economic and cultural contribution that refugees and asylum seekers make to the UK, and promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.