One current and two former guests at Bakhita House were among students who attended a special summer school for survivors of Modern Slavery. Horizons Summer School was run by St Mary’s University, Twickenham and took place over eight weeks from 3 July to 23 August. A wide range of classes were available including digital skills, exercise for health, floristry, and career pathways. The organisers were also pleased to be able to link with Kew Gardens to offer a three day introduction to Horticulture course.
Two of the women have told us about the difference that attending the summer school has made to their skills and confidence. One reported:
“I learned more how to use a computer, learn from home online and developed my awareness of how essential digital skills in daily activities. English has improved my communication skills and word vocabulary.
Career pathways, employability skills, life skills and life stories served as guidance on choosing a career and setting goals. Learning from previous students’ life stories and achievements contributed motivation and inspiration. It served hope and courage, despite challenges, students continued to succeed. It helped me build my confidence.
The programme gave me an amazing experience. I will always remember and thank everyone who made up this programme because it served as many ways to get out of the traumatic experience. It made a change and lead me to the path of having brighter future with freedom and a successful career.”
Horizons summer school was created by the the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse at St Mary’s University. It is the first of its kind in the UK, and aims to address the challenges in accessing education for survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, especially during the summer months when other establishments are closed.
Another Bakhita House guest loved the wide range of classes offered by the summer school and told us:
“I like the Horizon Summer School very much because I have learned new IT skills, such as how to work in excel and power point. I found very useful the healthy food classes, it helped me understand how to mix the ingredients and follow a balanced diet. I particularly enjoyed poetry and drama, it made me feel excited and happy as it’s been a beautiful experience for me. I am grateful for Bakhita House by providing me with the opportunity that enhanced my life.”
Twelve students also attended the Building Bridges Conference in July, organised by Migrants Help, entitled ‘Facing adversity – coming together to support people seeking asylum and those working in the sector’. The students found it empowering to hear the contributions of survivors on the Conference panel.
Sixteen students from thirteen nationalities attended Horizons Summer School and fourteen of them Graduated in a celebration on 24th August. The graduation day ended with a macramé workshop, delivered by a survivor of human trafficking who is now living in Ireland and delivers these workshops to businesses and organisations. This workshop ended the day with a calm and positive environment where people could talk, reflect and enjoy each other’s company.
Alongside the support received through Bakhita House, the summer school gave these three women a real boost to their confidence and wellbeing, and showed them that they can be ambitious and achieve their goals.
Photos taken at Bakhita House by Elena Heatherwick