The following blog is written by new Let Us learn Project Worker, Dami Makinde. Dami waited for over five years for a decision on her application for leave to remain in the UK, even though she has lived in the country since she was 8 years old. Because of this delay – and despite the Supreme Court victory – Dami is unable to take up her place at university due to the 3 year ordinary residence rule. Here she describes her first week in the job and how her own experiences drive her to help other young people.
Creaking down the office stairs at 9:30 on Monday morning, my heart was pounding. I could feel my palms sweating and my blood racing. Although I was nervous, I was filled with so much excitement and joy. I was finally starting a job for which I had so much passion. I feel honoured and grateful to be in this position as I feel I have something to offer to young people who are facing the same challenges as me.
During my first week, I had many meetings. I met Mari from Educators for Fair Consideration and she told me about the amazing work they do to help undocumented young people in the US go to university (please do watch their short film below – I found it very emotional and poignant). I met Steph from Citizens UK and we discussed how to make the next leadership academy even better than the last. The meetings made me realise how important it is to support and help develop young people to become future leaders. I was pumped and even more excited to empower young people to tell their story and to be unashamed about their journey in life.
At another meeting, I sat in a room full of people from different immigration organisations. They were talking about issues of which they have probably had no personal experience. My thoughts drifted to the many young people who have no idea that help is available to them. I thought of my own situation and how isolated and lonely I felt while waiting to hear back from the Home Office for so many years. It made me feel powerless for a moment as I realised that there are still so many young people out there who are currently feeling what I felt only a year ago.
As such, a large part of my role will be meeting with young people on a one-to-one basis. This week I spoke with one young person who had only recently discovered Let Us Learn. She is currently at university so it will be tricky to meet, but she was happy she finally had someone to talk to about her situation. I tried to reassure her that change is possible and we agreed to stay in touch. I am determined to speak to more young people, to let them know that they are not alone.
By Dami Makinde – Let Us Learn Project Worker