Cafe combines culture and care to provide help for refugees

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Shilla Zwizwai launched the Care 4 Culture Café during Refugee Week

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25th June 2015 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

I was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Scotland aged 13. At age 16 I went into care.

I was in a children’s home and I was quite confused I didn’t know what I was entitled to, what sort of support to ask for and I didn’t know about the process of being a refugee. I didn’t know anyone – I had to eat food I wasn’t used to eating and I wasn’t used to being around children and young people from a completely different culture.

The staff in the unit were very supportive, they did their best to support me but it was very difficult.

For me there were no language barriers as I spoke English before I came here, but I now think about young people who can’t even speak English – how can they connect with anyone?

One of the staff members from my unit went to an event and met young people from Who Cares Scotland and heard their stories and thought that might be something I would want to get involved in.

I struggled a lot and think if I can use my experience to even help one person out there, for me that would be fine

I am 21 now and I have left care – since I have it’s been great. I have been very lucky. I am studying law at the moment in the City of Glasgow College. I really want to be a lawyer working in family law.

I recently got a job as a young person’s advocacy worker in Inverclyde Council. I enjoy working with children and for me if there is anything I can do to help children speak up that would be the ideal job.

I am one of four Who Cares Scotland ambassadors and I recently set up the Care 4 Culture Café during Refugee Week.

During the time I was in care I did not know anyone else who was in care that had come from a different country so I just wanted to make an event that would connect people from different countries who are in care at the moment and let them know there is someone else in that position and an organisation that can help them. I wanted them to find out a bit more about Who Cares Scotland and the support that is available.

I set up a temporary café and we had music and food from different countries. When I first had the idea I didn’t want anything too formal and said there wouldn’t be too many questions asked so people wouldn’t become uncomfortable.

One of the things we did was to get the young people to draw the flag of the country they had come from and that got them talking to each other about their country and led to them asking each other questions. I thought it went amazingly as we had quite a few young people turn up and they seemed to enjoy the event and they got involved in everything going on.

Most of the young people there didn’t know about the support that was available and were asking questions about things like how to go about getting an education.

What I want to do is run this every year but more than that I want to set up a group where young people can meet up every fortnight or once a month to make sure there is a way for young people to connect and find out more about what is there for them and the different organisations.

I have got indefinite leave to remain in the country – but for other people that don’t I want to help them and show them the process doesn’t have to be difficult.

I struggled a lot and think if I can use my experience to even help one person out there, for me that would be fine.

Shilla Zwizwai launched the Care 4 Culture Café during Refugee Week.