Yumna first made contact with CARAS in 2011. She was a young teenager and had come to the UK alone. Despite only having been in London for a few months, she had already been housed in three different places and was now in a young person’s hostel. She was deeply stressed:her accommodation was unsupportive of her needs and felt ‘like prison’, her asylum claim had been refused, and progression in her education seemed impossible. She also felt that no one knew her, or was taking the time to get to know who she was and the help that she needed.

That’s why we provide dedicated, personalised support. Whilst waiting for a college place, we gave Yumna one-to-one Maths tuition with a volunteer to enable her to translate her impressive Maths knowledge into English. We supported her to take her Maths GCSE as a private entry, which she passed with a C. This was enough to gain a college place to study 5 GCSEs.

We then advocated strongly for her to be moved out of hostel accommodation. In her country of origin, she had experienced periods of surveillance and imprisonment and was re-experiencing this because there was a security guard, CCTV cameras, and a bag scanner at the entrance. We found a welfare solicitor who took on the case and successfully argued that no young asylum seekers should be accommodated in this way.

Yumna had severe nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. She also had debilitating headaches and stomach pain. We helped her seek support through her GP and a college counselling service. We also made sure she knew that our charity was always open to her and that she could share any worries with us.

Yumna is now in her first year at university. She is happy and far more confident than she was when she first arrived. She is a youth leader in her church and has a supportive network of close friends. Yumna believes that the emotional and practical support she received when she first arrived in London enabled her to achieve these things.

Help us to be there for young people who come here alone, with no friends or family to support them – donate to our Christmas Appeal.