In 2018, Canada took in more refugees than any other country, overtaking the US for the first time since the 1980 Refugee Act. After fleeing war in their homeland, Syrian refugees can find themselves thrust into an uncertain future, possibly losing years of education.
In the UK, a small college heard the pleas for extra education and set out on a mission to help.
Founded in London in 1958, Newman Catholic College (NCC) prides itself on its ethos to give all pupils the encouragement and care they need to flourish and reach their full potential. After listening to the local community, NCC realised that the Syrian children in their area were desperate to catch up on years of lost education.
In response to their heartfelt cries, NCC decided to offer up their school premises during the summer vacation in order to give refugees and asylum seeking children tuition free of charge. In 2016, the Syrian Summer Camp opened its doors to 40 children per day for four days a week.
They were taught Science, English and Maths and the classes ranged from beginner through to more advanced levels. The results spoke for themselves. These supplementary classes helped boost the children’s confidence, wellbeing and educational performance. The impressive results made the school want to do more.
With an aim to restart the Syrian Summer Camp the following summer, NCC took to crowdfunder.
They wanted to run the Summer Camp five days a week, have even more students attend the programme, and provide them lunch during their studies. To do this, they needed £10,000 ($17,007.42).
In just 8 days, they reached their initial target and set a stretch target, hoping to be able to provide a ‘Mums and Babes’ English class, UK Citizenship education, Summer Camp volunteer training, volunteer travel expenses, a Hardship Fund, and electronic resources.
After a total of 28 days, NCC raised £17,665 ($30,048.22 from 79 supporters, including an extra-funding grant of £5,000 ($8505.02) from one of Crowdfunder UK’s funding partners. The City Bridge Trust and Trust For London’s conjoined initiative aims to help organisations in London which are addressing inequality and lifting people out of poverty!
On an update posted on their crowdfunding page, NCC said, “I am so amazed at what has been achieved in such record time for our school and our refugee children through Crowdfunder.”
A community impact for Syrian Refugees in London
When asked about the impact crowdfunding had on the school and community, Mr Coyle, NCC’s Headteacher, said, “The project has now become self sustaining – the success of crowdfunding enabled us to launch a successful project that attracted lots of publicity and attention.”
He continued, “It has enabled the local Syrian refugee community to become successful academically and settled as UK citizens.”
During Summer of 2017, NCC opened its doors once again to the refugees and asylum seekers of the community. On the first day over 80 students arrived, hungry to learn. On Wednesday of that same week, the number of pupils reached 96, consisting of students, parents, and even grandmas who were thankful to the school and the extra-funding that allowed the parent classes to commence.
Though exhausting, the school and its 40+ volunteer teachers called the 4 week programme a great success and were ready to continue offering education to those in need for years to come.