A mother of eight children, T is a refugee who escaped persecution in Kuwait, with her family.

T and her family are members of the Bidoon people (a group originating from nomadic tribes native to the Arabian Peninsula). This group is categorized as stateless and illegal in Kuwait and thus denied basic rights including access to education. T did her best to educate her eight children at home and with some success, her two daughters have a ‘knack’ for music (one plays the piano and the other sings) and all can read and write in Arabic. However, no one in T’s family had any formal education prior to arriving in the UK.

When I first T at my office at AWL, she was quiet and withdrawn, and relied on her oldest son to interpret for her (who had done an ESOL course with AWL before). Obviously, T needed a lot of support, such as access to benefits, improvement to her English language skills, and most importantly placing her children in schools. Arriving in the UK allowed T and her family to enjoy the rights and freedoms, that we normally take for granted, such as education and the safety of her children.

The UN Refugee Agency states that 18,519 people were offered protection in the UK in the year June 2018 – June 2019. Of these, 25% (or 4,563) were children.

T has made good progress since joining the program and receiving the necessary help from AWL. Her progress and confidence have been down to her hardworking nature, positive personality, and the desire to create a new start for her family. At 55 T is full of youthful vigour and is not slowing down any time soon (not that this is an option for a mother of 8 anyway). For example, she has been supporting her daughter’s ambition to design and make clothes, they have plans to set up a Facebook page to start showcasing their pieces.

T recognises that the route to independence in her new home is through better English skills and learning to drive (her lifelong dream!). She does not know what will happen next – nobody does – she’s just grateful for the opportunity!

Marcin Lewandowski.