Meet Salusbury World, a one of a kind association that welcomes children refugees and their families and provides them with practical support to help them adjust to their new lives.
The association located inside Salusbury Primary School in Queen’s Park, London, has been striving for more than 15 years to create a new way of life for refugees and bring their full potential.
“In 1998, the Head of School realized that kids coming from war-torn countries in this very multicultural area needed additional support and that’s how Salusbury World was created”, explains Violeta Hulme, educational mentoring project coordinator.
At the time of its creation, the association received mostly refugees fleeing from the Balkans and Iran who had been placed within local B&Bs up Salusbury Road, where the school is located.
Over the years refugees have come from many more countries, especially from Afganistan and Syria these days, but the purpose of Salusbury World has not changed.
“We provide a positive welcome and encouragement as well as holistic support for the families who need it”, says Mrs Hulme.
As part of that holistic support, Salusbury World offers numerous activities for children, such as after school clubs, holiday clubs and cycling activities.
It also monitors mentoring programmes for parents, English classes and advocacy, creating a support network for refugees and acting as a link between them and professionals who can help with very practical everyday issues as most families do not know what they are entitled to.
The association holds special events throughout the year as well such as a refugee week where parents organize story tellings in different languages but also talks, such as one held in October with Afghan former child refugee Gulwali Passarlay who presented his book “A lightless sky”.
“We have different types of awareness days and the kids are very clued on current affairs as it definitely brings the wealth of culture and we are quite good at creating a buddy support despite the obstacles such as language for newcomers”, says Mrs Hulme.
Violeta Hulme also stresses how welcoming and supportive non-refugee parents have always been as the charity works closely with the school’s parents’ association.
Liz Till, a member of the partnered London Interfaith Center which tries to bring children refugees from Calais to the UK, says: “The community has been very responsive. I for one remember when 60 families needed clothes and the storage was full the next day”.
But there are also former and current refugees involved in the 120 volunteers working for the association, acting as interpreters for instance or part-time volunteers during half-terms.
Ayan Hassani, a volunteer, says: “I came here as a refugee from Somalia so this is my way to give back help as much as I can”.
Salusbury World is now contemplating expansion as it is about to open a third branch at the Cardinal Newman School, a catholic secondary school on Harlesden Road in London and is looking to recruit new coordinators.
“Our long-term vision is to spread”, concludes Mrs Hulme.