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502 CHAPTER 28 Beyond Self-Actualisation IssuesandChallengesExperiencedbyYoungAfricansSeekingAsylum inLondonandBuildingResilienceforaWayForward Caroline Marks Madongo INTRODUCTION An asylum-seeker is a person who has crossed an international border in search of safety and applies to be given refugee status under the 1951 United Nations Convention which describes a refugee as someone who: Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it’(UNHCR 1952:8).1 Asylum seekers in the United Kingdom may have their claims accepted and be granted refugee status or humanitarian protection which can be renewed after a five-year period. Discretionary leave to remain may also be granted for a maximum of three years. If their claims are rejected, they could face being deported back to the countries that they would have fled. In 2011, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria and Sudan were amongst the top ten asylum producing countries with applications made in the United Kingdom.2 Young people seeking asylum often arrive as dependents of asylum seekers or as unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum in their own right and are separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult who by law has responsibility to do so (UKBA, 2011).3 They are likely to encounter challenges such as language barriers and insecurities which affect their establishing a sense of belonging during the integration process; including issues that might arise from Home Office decisions on their immigration status that may have a negative effect on their access to basic needs such as housing and education. Elwyn et al, (2012) document the plight of young 503 BEYOND SELF-ACTUALISATION asylum seekers who face barriers from Home Office decisions in accessing higher education funding. Some of whom are Africans and would like to return to their countries in future to help rebuild communities or to volunteer in refugee camps which have helped them in the past.4 This area of research looking into how refugee drop-in-centres could benefit young people seeking asylum has been chosen following the success of the Supporting and Mentoring in Learning and Education5 (SMILE) project run by a leading refugee organisation based in south London over a three year period from 2008 to 2011. Funding for this programme has come to an end and research has shown that many of the children who took part believed that the support given by volunteers and befrienders had a positive effect on their lives. This research is outstanding and contributes very much to our understanding of the needs of young asylum seekers. However, its purpose served to evaluate the outcomes of a threeyear long project and it is unclear whether these benefits presented are long or short term. Overall, there appears to be a gap in the literature reviewed where the long term benefits of refugee drop-in-centres is underresearched . Other authors and organisations working with refugee people mainly focus on refugee and asylum seekers’ experiences and challenges in relation to government policy on immigration and research is dominated by these themes.6 The primary aim of this study is to attempt to fulfil this gap in literature by examining how refugee drop-in-centres could help young refugees and asylum seekers reach self-actualisation. The secondary aim seeks to examine whether the purpose of self-actualisation should mainly serve to aid the integration purpose in the United Kingdom or if it must stretch beyond this to be a foundation upon which young self-actualised African refugees’ interests could be geared towards understanding the causes of conflict on the continent and how they can maximise their talents, capabilities and potentialities in a bid to contribute to constricting a stronger African Union. In order to reach a conclusion, this study has investigated how support offered at refugee drop-in-centres and other organisations in London have supported the participants and helped them develop through their journey into adulthood. The specific questions that this research has discussed thematically and attempted to answer are as follows: ■ Is there a link between resilience and self-actualisation in the lives...


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