After a talk at school about the refugee crisis, Edge Hill University student Daniel Chapman felt compelled to help those affected and promote a more positive image of asylum seekers.
19 year old Social Work student Daniel from the Wirral has helped with English and reading lessons, organised events and raised awareness among his peers through volunteering with Asylum Link Merseyside (ALM). He has now been rewarded with a University Scholarship.
“I would go over every Tuesday morning to help out with English classes of around 40 people, with reading,” said Daniel. “As many asylum seekers are isolated, break time and lunch time were a great opportunity to get to know each other and support them with friendship. At school we also threw a Christmas party for over 70 asylum seekers from ALM.”
This invaluable experience inspired Daniel to want to do more, so he volunteered for Care4Calais during the summer before starting university, working as a volunteer, distributing aid in the now-dismantled ‘Jungle’ refugee camp. He returned a further three times to support refugees and continues to campaign to raise money and awareness of the need for ongoing help for refugees in Calais.
“The experience has definitely been one of the best of my life,” said Daniel. “Mornings would be spent carrying out warehouse tasks and in the afternoons I was lucky enough to go in to camp to either run Art and English workshops, help with distribution, or go ticketing – the targeted system we used going from tent to tent giving people tickets for the aid they needed most.”
“My second visit was slightly more sombre because it was during the week of demolition. This week involved giving the refugees as much information possible about what was happening, helping them queue to be registered and even staying overnight in camp for two nights watching over children who the authorities wouldn’t register who had no shelter.”
“I’m proud to have been awarded the scholarship and so happy that, because of it, I will have the funds to carry on what I’ve enjoyed doing so much, and it will provide me with the opportunity to help more people.”
Daniel has used his experiences not only to inspire other students to get involved in volunteering in Calais, but to enhance his peers’ understanding of child welfare issues. In a presentation to the class he was able to give a first-hand international dimension to child safeguarding through his own experience with displaced child migrants. Over summer in 2017, he travelled to Greece to help at refugee camps there, and will again be sharing his experiences with staff and students.
Recently, Daniel also presented to the International Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference about how students can raise issues of social justice and the need to protect the human rights of individuals experiencing hardship and oppression.