Loneliness and refugees

Loneliness and social isolation are the biggest challenges faced by refugees arriving in London. They have been forced to leave their home country, their community and often their family as they flee war and persecution. New refugees are keen to make friends and contribute to society, but they face language and cultural barriers that can make this difficult. These barriers can separate refugees from the people around them, and make building a new life very lonely work.

At WaveLength, we work with organisations across the UK who are supporting newly-arrived refugees. As we have seen, loneliness and social isolation are two of the biggest challenges facing refugees in Britain today, and we work with these organisations to help overcome this loneliness.

Why do refugees need this support?

Refugee children watching WaveLength

The majority of refugees that we assist have arrived through the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Scheme. These refugees have come directly to the UK from refugee camps around Syria in countries such as Jordan and Iraq. This means that they have all been displaced from their homes, and have experienced the trauma of war and upheaval. To be eligible for the VPR scheme, people must meet at least one of the following categories:

  • Women and girls at risk
  • Survivors of violence or torture
  • Individuals with medical needs or disabilities
  • Children and adolescents at risk
  • Individuals at risk due to their sexuality

This means that the refugees arriving under this scheme have complex needs, and are more at risk of loneliness.

Syrian refugees watching a television given by WaveLength charity.

Their homes and possessions were destroyed, and they have arrived in the UK with no money. They have been supported to claim UK benefits, but the money they receive from social security is not sufficient for them to purchase non-essential items, such as a television.

The families are currently very socially isolated as they do not yet speak English and they are new to Northern Ireland. They are still adjusting to the huge challenges of a new life in a new country. They do not all live in an area where there are any other Arabic speakers. They are isolated socially and they have no English yet. They also have a young child under 2 years old.

The parents are not yet able to seek employment due to the language barrier, and the children are experiencing boredom as their parents do not have the money to engage them in activities during the evenings.

How does technology help?

For people with such complex needs, a radio, television or tablet computer can represent many different things. It can be a way to keep track of what is happening at home, improve language skills, complete homework, make friends, better understand British culture and create a sense of normality in unfamiliar circumstances.

A happy WaveLength beneficiary

Thank you so much, our children are so happy with the tablet, and we are so happy with the TV.

Thank you so much, our children are so happy with the tablet, and we are so happy with the TV. The children use the tablet to look at the English YouTube videos which is helping them to improve their English. The mother is using the TV to improve her English. They are very grateful for the provision of both tablet and TV. Thank you!
WaveLength
2019-08-13T14:56:20+00:00
Thank you so much, our children are so happy with the tablet, and we are so happy with the TV. The children use the tablet to look at the English YouTube videos which is helping them to improve their English. The mother is using the TV to improve her English. They are very grateful for the provision of both tablet and TV. Thank you!

Thank you so much for relieving a terrible situation and allowing me to be able to forget my troubles

WaveLength
2019-08-13T14:53:36+00:00

I can use my TV to help my language which gives me something to focus on.

I have had a lot of changes since arriving in NI and am struggling to adapt. I can use my TV to help my language which gives me something to focus on.
WaveLength
2019-08-13T14:57:36+00:00
I have had a lot of changes since arriving in NI and am struggling to adapt. I can use my TV to help my language which gives me something to focus on.

Our children were missing home and having a television gave them comfort at night time when they went to bed.

We watch the Arabic channels which allows us to keep up with the news in Syria. It has let my children watch their familiar programmes which eased the resettlement process. Our children were missing home and having a television gave them comfort at night time when they went to bed.
WaveLength
2019-08-13T14:54:57+00:00
We watch the Arabic channels which allows us to keep up with the news in Syria. It has let my children watch their familiar programmes which eased the resettlement process. Our children were missing home and having a television gave them comfort at night time when they went to bed.

The television helped us still feel close to our families.

We came from Jordan to Scotland due to the war in Syria, and having a television in our home to watch with the children helped the family settle into our new home. We have been able to watch the various channels, listen to music it also let us watch the news about what was happening in Syria. This helped us still feel close to our families, when my children go to school everyday it has helped decrease my isolation and improve on my much needed English and now I can go out and this has helped my mental health.
WaveLength
2019-08-13T14:54:12+00:00
We came from Jordan to Scotland due to the war in Syria, and having a television in our home to watch with the children helped the family settle into our new home. We have been able to watch the various channels, listen to music it also let us watch the news about what was happening in Syria. This helped us still feel close to our families, when my children go to school everyday it has helped decrease my isolation and improve on my much needed English and now I can go out and this has helped my mental health.
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