An organisation in Bradford is preparing for the arrival of Afghan refugees by expanding its volunteer programme.

The Arise Mentoring programme aims to pair refugees with a professional person in society, to help them settle into everyday life in Bradford.

Nouran Mohammed,  Programme Officer and Mentoring lead at My Foster Family said:  "What we try to do is work on different personal development and careers to understand the mentee's needs to match them with a suitable mentor.

"We know the mentees might have psychological issues and post-war trauma so we make sure the mentors are trained properly."

They will be paired based on the mentee's career aspirations, availability, and language.

Simeon Brown, Arise Mentoring Programme Developer added: “We saw there was a gap when young people came over during the Syrian refugee crisis, they were screaming out that they were isolated and they didn’t have anyone to show them the local area, if they had a vision or they had a dream to work towards, there wasn’t anyone there to give them the time.

 “We are trying to get young people who have been in that situation and who have come out and succeeded on the other side to become mentors for these young refugees from Afghanistan as they have been in their shoes.”

The programme was initially set up in 2018 as a reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis but will be a ‘perfect response’ to the arrival of the Afghan refugees in Bradford.

The refugees will be referred to the programme by their school, however Arise Mentoring is looking to form partnerships with local authorities to make the process easier.

Dr. Sohail Ahmed took part as a mentor in the scheme previously said: “The changes that we make now are crucial."

"We can’t say that we’ll let the Afghan refugees come here and we’ll think about it in a year or two, we need it now, it’s immediate and it’s needed very soon to have the impact otherwise we will lose the entire generation of young people that come here.”

“My mentee has developed in all areas, physically he looks like a different person, but in terms of his confidence and language skills, they’ve developed much more. He now has hope and believes in himself.”

Kammy Siddique, Resettlement Lead and Co-Founder of Arise Mentoring Programme said: “Some of these young people have been through such traumatic experiences and this is to make their life a bit easier settling into the UK. It was initially for the Syrian refugee crisis, but it is the ideal design now, for the Afghan crisis, not that the crisis is ideal.

"The programme really broadens their horizons and gives them opportunities that they never would’ve dreamed of having, like going into the lawyer’s office for the day."

The volunteers will be guided on how to support their mentee, and will meet with them regularly.

Dr. Ahmed said that his mentee is now considering a career in healthcare, following in his footsteps.

The programme hopes to increase employability skills by working on the mentee's CV, relationship building, and also by having sessions on how to become an ‘active British citizen’ in the community.

Arise Mentoring was rolled out in four major cities in the UK, including Bradford, London, Manchester, and Birmingham, and paired up to 15 refugees in each.

Shadim Hussain, CEO of My Foster Family said: "We are excited to be launching Arise Befriending in Bradford.

"Thanks to funding from Barrow Cadbury Trust and Barnardos we have evolved the programme to support Education, Wellbeing and Mental Health.

"Over the years Bradford Foundation Trust and My Foster Family have work togther with partners to support 100’s of asylum seekers and refugees to settle in Bradford. 

"We are working with Bradford Council to provide safeguarding training to all our volunteers and carry out DBS checks, and with Bradford University, Bradford College and schools across the district to ensure new arrivals in the city feel welcome and supported to thrive."

An online Zoom meeting is taking place on Friday September 17 from 5 pm to discuss the scheme and how to get involved. 

To join the meeting register at Meeting ID: 873 8578 9291

To apply to become a mentor click