From late 2005 to early 2006 I worked with a group of Somali refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield. The group had emerged around concerns about Somali children’s achievement in school and hoped to find out what sorts of particular problems their children might face. Together we designed a survey based on a bilingual questionnaire; the survey was carried out by Somali volunteers and the group worked together to interpret the results.
The final report was presented at a large meeting of policy makers, service providers and service users at Sheffield Town Hall in March 2006. The report includes data about the Somali community’s concerns about education; about the culture gap between youth and parents; and about the kinds of solutions that Somalis hope to see. A number of best practice solutions are described, most strikingly the highly successful efforts of Somali link workers in Tower Hamlets.
The Somali group Link Action is currently working with the Northern Refugee Centre to bring about some of the potential solutions described in the report.