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.
Every year, thousands of people are forced to flee war or persecution. In fact, every minute of every day in 2015, 24 people were displaced from their homes. This has contributed to a record 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Of these displaced people, only a tiny proportion has the opportunity to build a new life for themselves in a safe country like the UK.
However, escaping a war zone and travelling to a safe country isn’t the end of the challenge. Finding a home and a job, learning a new language and building a new community are all hard things to do. Achieving all of them at once, without the support of friends and family, is even harder. Refugees living in London described their experiences*:
“I was feeling alienated. My loneliness was a painful and disturbing realisation of being unaccepted and unloved, of being alone and having no other choice…”
“I never had big losses in my life. Then suddenly I kind of lost everything –family, friends, a comfortable environment, a culture I understood and my identity.. But then you are just kind of getting used to being lonely.”
“I felt remarkably unwelcome in the UK. There was a distinct feeling that you, as a ‘foreigner’ were not welcome…”
* These quotes come from 2014 a report by The Forum.
At WaveLength we work with organisations that support refugees to build new lives in the UK.
By providing televisions, radios and tablet computers, we are able to help refugees feel more at home, practice their English and stay up to date with news from their home countries. Some of the refugees we have helped have told us:
“Thank you for your humanity.”
“A house without a television is like heaven without the people.”
“Having the radio is a great way of learning English via the songs, and brings a good atmosphere to our home when it is on”
“The children watch a lot of CBeebies and cartoons, which are helping them improve their English, and cheer their spirits. Watching them also gives them common ground with other children at school, giving them something to relate to, chat about and role-play. Their parents watch mainly news programmes to keep in touch with what is happening in Syria, but to also help with their language skills.”
If you are able to help us continue our work supporting refugees, please donate online now or text WAVE82 £5 to 70070. Thank you.