Cllr Rebecca Harvey, Hammersmith and Fulham Council Lead Member for Refugees visited West London College virtually to meet young and adult ESOL students via Zoom in a series of classes taking place earlier this week on 26 and 27 January 2021.
In one class alone, Cllr Harvey met students from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Albania and Sudan. A lot of the young people had endured long and dangerous journeys to reach London and were now in the process of learning English so that they could complete their education and find jobs.
Cllr Harvey wanted to meet them so that she could find out more about the lives of young refugees in Hammersmith and Fulham.
She described a gathering of young people she arranged in 2019 (COVID-19 has prevented similar gatherings since), which led to setting up football classes at Fulham Football Academy, and a master class at Craven Cottage with Gary Lineker. Several of the students turned out to be regular attendees at the football classes she had set up.
Cllr Harvey told the young learners about the Hammersmith and Fulham Youth Council and that this was a way of getting involved in local democracy in the borough. She also described a project she is planning to run in June, showcasing young artists, poets and writers from the borough.
Some of the students told Cllr Harvey about their hopes for the future. Abbas and Halil, both 17, want to become doctors. Haidari, who is from Afghanistan and travelled to the UK from Greece, wants to become a lawyer. Faizal from Sudan, aged 17, wants to become a computer engineer. Omar, aged 19 from Syria wants to work in a barbershop and Fatmir, aged 18 from Albania wants to become a mechanic.
Cllr Harvey advised them: “Don’t ever give up. I left home at 16 and would never have expected to be where I am today. Life brings challenges and successes.”
In the next class, Cllr Harvey observed an English lesson as the teacher, Sameena Rehman, quizzed her students on nouns, proper nouns, adjectives and verbs. Cllr Harvey told the students how useful she had found their lesson on refreshing her own English grammar.