Covid-19 has deepened poverty, deprivation and destitution in disadvantaged communities. Increasingly, Migrant Action is witnessing individuals who are struggling to adequately meet the basic needs of food, education and shelter.
For vulnerable migrants, the need is greater and the consequences of unmet needs are severe. The pandemic has exacerbated vulnerability for those living on the ‘hard edges’ of society, especially migrants who have no recourse to public funds and restricted access to services.
Over the autumn half-term, Migrant Action partnered with Complete Woman and URP-Leeds ltd to deliver hot meals, sandwiches and snacks to over 75 children accompanied by their parents and carers.
The initiative was part of a Migrant Action’s Covid-19 relief in association with the wider community-led national campaign led by the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
Our partnership worked in collaboration with other community stakeholders including Ethiopian restaurant Melkam and the Christ Temple of Worship church. Both provided access and trusted spaces for children, parents and carers to spend time together in a safe and relaxed environment.
More than Just Food
This initiative strengthened local partnerships, supported local business, enhanced social and cultural integration, reduced loneliness and isolation, built new relationships, identified new needs and increased community resilience.
These outcomes underpin Migrant Action’s ‘Strengthening Hands’ partnership, which aims to strengthen grassroots collaboration and tackle social justice and system change. These issues are rooted in the lived experience of migration, social and racial injustice.
Migrant Action is committed to alleviating the impact of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable. As the second wave of the pandemic takes hold, we anticipate an even more challenging winter, especially for the most vulnerable and destitute migrants.
Therefore, through our partnerships, we will continue to offer support to migrants and those with no recourse including food for children and their families.
How can you support us?
You can support our Covid-19 relief and the wider work on migrant rights and justice by donating to Migrant Action via this link https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/donation/migrant-action-donations?fbclid=IwAR3koPJeeVSMoUjmnQ5mEmgsA1LQQcravCOkce8CnLGqjk5cdLlFrINoLTc
If you are passionate about migrant rights and social justice and would like to volunteer, email: email@example.com
As we approach September, two volunteers involved in Migrant Action’s educational support project reflect on their experiences of e-tutoring over the summer
The closures of schools as part of the government’s Covid-19 lockdown measures raised concerns that school closures would disproportionate adversely impact the futures of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such children are more likely to attend schools that are unable to offer supplementary online schooling, may be unable to afford textbooks or access internet learning tools. The risk that children from disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind in learning poses potentially long-lasting impacts on their educational and future job prospects.
As a grassroots organisation, Migrant Action witnessed daily the impact of the lockdown and school closures play out in the lives of children and families. In response, it set up the ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative to provide educational resources and learning and befriending support to children and young people. Overall, the No Child Left Behind initiative aimed to prevent children falling behind in their school work and long term development thereby help reduce the widening inequalities in our society.
Here, two volunteers who participated in the initiative, Carys Milbourn and Abi Spring, elaborate on the work they have been undertaking throughout the summer. Migrant Action recognise the fantastic work undertaken by our volunteers involved in this initiative and we are immensely proud of their achievements.
Over lockdown I started tutoring children from two families, my role between the two families varied as I supported one family with Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Maths and the other with A-level choices and discussing options for university. I was able to come up with a surprisingly engaging way of learning Maths by using online games with one family which has helped consolidate and refresh what they have already learnt, whilst also teaching some new skills. With my other family I have provided a friendly face and someone new to talk to as I definitely feel that for young people lockdown is extremely challenging, particularly when you are used to seeing friends every day in school. I have really enjoyed giving guidance on how I got into university and what I have learnt from my past experience doing A Levels. I think that it’s been difficult to adapt to a new way of communicating and teaching online but it has also taught me a lot along the way. A highlight of tutoring has been seeing the children gain confidence every week whilst talking to me and also in their Maths ability. I think that this project has shown that in times of hardship, uncertainty and fear, community is more important than ever. Although social distancing has made contact difficult, online communication has enabled greater conversation and community bonds to grow as people support each other through these strange and hard circumstances.
I was approached to participate in the No Child Left Behind initiative and was more than happy to join in: working with young people has always been something I have enjoyed, and it felt good to feel like I was contributing positively to the community whilst stuck at home in lockdown! I have been conducting weekly Zoom sessions with two children of Key Stage 1 level and helping them with both Maths and English. During our first lesson, I found out that the children had been given workbooks to study with (this is another arm of the No Child Left Behind strategy). I made the decision to purchase the same books that the children were using, in order to help me structure sessions and decide what activities we would work through ahead of time. It has taken a while to adapt to tutoring via the internet- I am a visual learner, so I like to explain things by writing them- but this method does not translate well to a webcam format and resulted in me holding up pieces of paper which was not the clearest way to communicate! However, once I discovered the potential of the ‘share screen’ option on Zoom, I realised that applications like Paint could be used just like a virtual whiteboard, and this has really helped me. A personal highlight of this experience has been seeing the children engaging enthusiastically with the work, as it’s clear they’re both really keen to learn. I look forward to our sessions every week- it also gives me a good excuse to avoid working on my dissertation! I hope the children feel like they have found the lessons useful and gained something from this experience, as I do.
Service user feedback
“Carys was very nice and engaging with me, I found out that we had quite a bit in common and I felt less shy talking to her as the chats went on. She’s also very smart and helpful and funny. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I’d like it to continue.”
“Abi has been fantastic and the kids look forward to the next session with excitement, it has made a great difference, thanks a lot.”
“The laptop has helped us significantly, allowing us to be able to get through work and research comfortably as we don’t have to look on our smaller phone screens, and has also given us the leisure of not having to take turns watching things like Youtube and Netflix on our TV since we now have a second device to watch these things on. We appreciate this gift you have given to us.”
Covid-19 has revealed the staggering inequality in our society reflected. According to research carried out by Sky news, during the lockdown, 43% of children from disadvantaged backgrounds study for 1 hour a day compared to 14% from more affluent backgrounds and 4% of children attending private schools.
Nearly two in three (64%) of secondary pupils in state schools from the richest households are offered some form of active help, compared with 47% from the poorest fifth of families, the study suggests. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52701850
82% of secondary school pupils attending private school are offered active help, with 79% being provided with online classes. https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/BN288-Learning-during-the-lockdown-1.pdf
The most deprived communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the government’s lockdown measures including school closures. The experiences and impact of the lockdown will vary largely based on the child’s environment and the opportunities available to them.
While children from ‘better off’ backgrounds have access to online learning resources, equipment, school and parental support as well as a convenient learning environment, those who are poor and less well off lack these ‘privileges’ therefore disadvantaged in this ‘forced’ home learning environment. Covid-19 has exacerbated an entrenched tier education system whereby children from better-off families are racing faster to the top while those from poorer backgrounds are ‘left behind’ as they race to the bottom.
- Migrant Action has supported some migrant families with IT equipment to help children access vital online learning resources including doing school home work.
- Children has also received some study material (books, toys and pencils) to assist learning and development during lockdown
- Migrant Action student volunteers have facilitated virtual interactive learning with children and their parents. These sessions also provide opportunities for informal conversations which help to reduce isolation and loneliness especially for new arrivals in Leeds who could feel ‘cut-off’ from society.
- Our online family learning support provides a great opportunity for family bonding during these challenging times but also give the volunteers the opportunity to directly engage with migrants and share experiences. As such, the scheme has a broader outcome of mediating social and cultural integration.
- “you have made her day, she is so pleased she doesn’t have to share my laptop with me” — Anonymous
- “Thanks Migrant Action for the books, the kids are very happy today and very busy now [with the books]” — Anonymous
Last Saturday, 25th April Migrant Action was in the community (Leeds and Bradford) responding to the emergency needs of vulnerable and destitute migrants/families.
Working in accordance to social distancing guidelines, we handed food parcels and vouchers but more importantly, our physical presence conveyed our #solidarity and #commitment to support vulnerable migrants in need.
The Lockdown measures continue to disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged groups in society- this includes migrant families, who have no recourse to public funds.
📣 Migrant Action would like to pay particular thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for their ongoing support, which enables us to continue to respond to the needs of vulnerable migrants and work towards offsetting the social and economic inequalities made worse by the effects of the pandemic.
🗣⚠️ Migrant Action welcomes any donations of dried and long-life products, so that it can continue to support vulnerable persons during this time- drop-off will be arranged in a ‘socially-distanced’ manner.
🗣⚠️ Alternatively, if you know of anyone who may benefit from such support, please get in touch via the Facebook messenger feature or email firstname.lastname@example.org