Back to the future with the Leicester Star Alam refugee resettlement team 

It was nice to roll back the years and come home (occasionally) to the Leicester Housing Department. This is where it all started with the homeless families support team, the first and by far most advanced in the U.K. Different resettlement teams followed, showing continuity and a welfare culture that is rare in many organisations these days.

The benefits were clear to see, despite the adverse economic climate for vulnerable groups. When the opportunity came, the resettlement team for refugee families was set up in house. Over the two workshops it was refreshing to mix with new staff picking up the baton and bringing diverse experiences from all over the Alam (world)!


WACIT psychoeducation resource on refugee children during different migration stages

Research measures are not sensitive enough yet in making this distinction between the impact of different traumatic events on refugee children; and research is just beginning to focus on the past, during and present. But Nilufer eloquently putChild refugee camp these messages across in her psychoeducation resource. Moving away from an all-or-nothing position of trauma-focused interventions, there are actually so many opportunities, even during transition, to make a difference through multi-modal approaches:


WACIT psychoeducation resources in Kinyrwanda by someone really special

Rwanda motherAll translations and contributions have their own meaning and importance. Receiving these three translations from Amina though is especially touching and a privilege, because of her unique experience as a sufferer and now an excellent carer in Rwanda. Naturally, The Gallagher Trust was the catalyst for both, so really nice to see the logo on the booklets, which is a lot more than symbolism:

(plus two more on the WACIT website)

Worth trying to learn the language and visiting this thriving country as proof of hope.



Priceless drawing gifts from children in the Karachi slums

How much would one auction these drawings for? No money could buy them, because they represent something much deeper than art investment, and which galleries and experts would not understand.

These were only a few gifts from the 5* school children in the Karachi slums. They were generous givings a from those who have so little, yet expect nothing material in return – only our smile and appreciation.

For this reason, the least artistic green drawing in the middle is my favourite. This little girl was patiently waiting to give it to me, but I missed her. Then I noticed her walking away looking upset – lips down. I called her back and thanked for her lovely present, then she smiled and hopped away cheerfully!

The most astonishing farewell from disadvantaged children in Karachi

Some children had got up at 4.00 in the morning to work, for example in local bakeries, before going to school. Some came from orphanages. The vast majority were from disadvantaged and slum areas. Their teachers and carers had long days too. Yet they were all there and had a great time!

It was a brilliant idea from Sajida and the Hussaini Foundation to bring together the schools and care homes they had been working with for an educational games  festival. Our volunteers worked tirelessly with the teachers in small groups to demonstrate and facilitate the games. Really moving to see several hundred needy children mix together and have fun!

Enhancing emotional care in orphanages is challenging

How do we capture and demonstrate needs to staff in new and particularly existing orphanages? They are difficult to define and are strongly related to attitudes, even when physical care is adequate.

So, it is a long process with perseverance from the providing or other responsible agency. Strategies have to include organisational, staff recruitment, training, and environmental improvements; as well as external links and supports. Crucially, these are all strongly interlinked. Having toys is not enough unless adults use them with the children or encourage their functional use.

The wonderful creativity and potential of these girls in North Pakistan ultimately brings us to the only question: “if would we not accept something for our own children, why should we accept it for someone else’s child?”

Where the Baltistan mountains meet heaven, there are teachers who really care

Flying over the imposing Karakoram mountains to get there, with the legendary K2 in sight, sets the scene. If the landscape shapes people’s psyche, this was breathtaking (literally, because of the altitude). The school itself was almost touching the mountain. But the goal of the workshop was clear: how to best integrate girls from the large local orphanage to school.

And teachers did not disappoint. I meant my feedback that the height of their emotional availability matched the altitude. They went out of their way to make them belong, feel the same as other children, and bridge the gap. Their observation skills were sharp too: “Give an example of how you know if a child is distressed?” “They look different, isolate themselves, even their drawing may look more aggressive”.

There were obviously opposite stories about another school. But let’s keep this one. Must feel the same for a botanist finding the same beautiful flower in the most diverse parts of the world.