Exclusion, uncertainty and, sadly, hostility, have severe impacts on young people especially, and they can become trapped with limited opportunity to rebuild their lives. A holiday offers a sense of freedom and normality that young refugees and asylum seekers rarely experience.
The Salesian Youth Ministry team met in November to begin planning and developing the project, and they are gathering this weekend to work with the volunteer team on preparations for the first summer camp, which is planned for 3rd – 10th August 2019.
Danny Sweeney, from SYM, said, "For this pilot programme we're going to be based around Liverpool, one of the areas of the UK where asylum seekers are dispersed to after initially raising their claim. With this being a new area for SYM, it will allow us to be rooted in a local community, and hopefully encourage contact with families, not just the young people who will be participating."
Support in developing roots within the community will come from local members of the Salesian family who are involved in schools or work directly with young asylum seekers in the area.
The team of volunteers and organisers are passionate about reaching out to these young people, whose childhoods have been disrupted by war and persecution, and who have suffered the trauma of fleeing their homes and arriving in a strange place where their welcome is uncertain.
Above: Danny, volunteering with Care4Calais
Danny experienced the situation and treatment of young asylum seekers at the UK border in Calais while he was working as a volunteer: "I became increasingly convinced that a response which was more welcoming and compassionate was desperately needed. As a youth ministry team, we're not in a position to change national policies, but we have the experience and skills to offer young people a chance to get away, to enjoy themselves, meet new friends, and spend time with Salesian animators."
SYM hopes that the Valdocco Project will have long-term effects too, in providing a foundation for young refugees and asylum seekers "to build their lives in a positive way and be able to fit themselves responsibly into society," as called for in the Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference.
How you can help:
- Please pray for the success of the Valdocco Project.
- Please help us spread the word about the project by sharing our social media posts or telling your friends and family.
- If you are able to make a donation, please visit the JustGiving page, and encourage others to consider donating.
- Contact Salesian Youth Ministry to discuss any other help you feel you could offer the project.
“The option for poor youth and those abandoned and at risk has been at the heart of the Salesian Family and its life from the time of Don Bosco till today”. (Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference, p 242