Newham College appeals for cash for migrant teenagers

15:00 08 April 2012

Newham College is pioneering a unique service to help migrant teenagers overcome the emotional challenge of moving to a new country.

The College has been offering short residential courses to help teenagers new to the borough find their feet.

Now, it wants businesses to help raise thousands of pounds to ensure the courses continue.

The local authority refers 14 to 16-year-olds to NewLap when they arrive in the borough too late in the academic year to find a school place.

Tracy Laudat, NewLap manager, said: “We’ve been working tirelessly to put together grant applications but we’ll also need help from business and the community.

“Young migrants need help because they can find themselves in stressful circumstances, having left their country, home, friends and sometimes even their parents.

“Residential programmes enable them to achieve a lot in a short space of time. They can build their confidence, and develop their language, social and even entrepreneurial skills

“When they come back from a residential, teachers say there’s a difference between them and others.

“Yet, although, we’ve seen unprecedented enrolment numbers this year, there aren’t many places where late admissions receive such help.”

Last month, 50 NewLap teenagers lived in a barge and in the Newham Council’s Fairplay House in Wickham Bishop, near Colchester for a week. As well as doing their own domestic chores, the teenagers’ activities included climbing, caving, orienteering, archery and socialising.

Kron Menishi, 16 a business student, from Plaistow and Kosvo, agrees. He said: “Every person on the course became more responsible. There was no fighting. Religion made no difference. Before, I didn’t trust many people. Now, I talk about my emotions.”

The local council funds NewLap to look after children who arrive in the borough after the beginning of the school year. But their funds do not include residential care that requires up to £23,000 in a year.

NewLap hopes business people will donate money or items such as video cameras, laptops, walkie talkies, and outdoor clothing.

Its fundraising began on March 27 with a sponsored seven-mile walk from the College’s East Ham Campus, near Central Park, to its Stratford Campus, near West Ham Park. It is also organising a sponsored football match on April 17.

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