Brussels: gallery from Engage Europe summer school #2

Engage London sent eight young people to the Engage Europe media summer school in Brussels, hosted by the programme co-ordinator, IHECS. Here’s the story in eight portraits

1 We’ve arrived in Belgium for summer school (25-28 June 2018)

Brussels Midi – Charlie, Naomi, Nicola, Savvas, Diana, Favour, Meagan, Matt, Rahim (and one more to join us, Alun) (c) Engage London

2 Here’s where we are staying, Hostel Bruegel, close to Sablon

Engage Europe participants meet up – here are students and staff from Spain, Germany and London (UK). There were also staff and students from Cluj-Napol in Romania. (c) Engage London

3 Last team member to join us

Alun Macer-Wright makes the first day’s plenary at IHECS, a journalism/media uni in Belgium, just in time to join the Engage Europe workshops with students and young people from Romania, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the UK. IHECS journalism school is close to the famous Manneken Pis (c) Engage London

4 IHECS journalism school is in the centre of Brussels

IHECS (this pic will be changed to the full group portrait when it is sent on from Engage Europe) (c) Engage London

5 Trip to the European Parliament (Engage Europe is co-funded by the Erasmus Programme of the EU)

First time visit to the European Parliament for five Engage London students – Charlie, Favour Alun, Diana and Naomi – who met Julie Ward, MEP for North West England (c) Engage London

6 A taster from just one of the workshops linking civil society with uni skills – this one involved portrait photography #baghead #ostcollective

In the back streets of Brussels summer school workshop had turned a garage into a photo studio to connect academia with civil society and mix up the formal portrait using skills of #octcollective. Here are Pilion Trust CEO Savvas Panas and Islington Faces’ Nicola Baird in disguise (c) Engage London

7 After sharing our summer school work there were certificates and a party

Scenes from the photo booth at the IHECS hosted party at Loft 58 – Romanians, British, Spanish, German and Belgian students all know how to party. (c) Engage London/Matt Hardy

8 Goodbye lunch

Delicious lunch at Les Cercle des Voyageurs near IHECS, in Brussels (c) Engage London

Engage London has approx 27 members – a lucky eight were able to attend the Brussels summer school at IHECS from 24-28 June. They were Pilion Trust’s Rahim Amin, Favour Ekengwu, Naomi Gahie, Charlie Tshibangu and City’s journalism undergrads Matt Hardy, Alun Macer-Wright, Diana Serenli, Meagan Walker. Big thanks to Engage Europe for creating this opportunity.

Meet the Engage London team: Rahim & Rihana

Rahim Amin and Rihana Senay both know Islington well as they have made the Pilion Trust’s Crashpad their temporary home when they needed somewhere to live. Here they introduce themselves to the #HearMeSpeak project by talking about their teenage years and current ambitions. Interviews by Diana Serenli and Matt Hardy

Rahim Amin from Engage London. (c) Engage London/DS

>RAHIM AMIN, 18 interview by Diana Serenli

Q: Where are you from?
I am from Sudan.

Q: Why did you come to London?
I am a refugee, from the war in Sudan.

Q: Tell me more about that. How did you get to London?
 My uncle organised my trip here. From Libya, I took a boat to Italy, where I stayed for a while. After I had to take a train to the airport where I then took a plane to Heathrow.

Q: How long was the whole process?
Two months.

Q: Where do you live?
Right now, I live with my friend. I used to live at the homeless shelter Crashpad during the winter. During warm weather I would sleep in the park for five maybe four nights but then I always go back to a shelter.  Crashpad, were the ones who helped me find a place with my friend.

  • Stop press! Rahim has just been given a place of his own to live.

Q: How long have you been a refugee in London?
Two years.

Q: What is your dream?
My dream is to get a place and to bring my family here. Also, I want to study mechanics.

Q: Do you make any contact with your family?
Yes, I have a mobile phone that I brought myself.

Q: Do you study now?
Yes. Right now, I am studying English in College.

  • Stop press 2! Rahim is due to join us at the summer school in Brussels.

Q: Have you got a job?
No not yet, but Job Centre is helping me find a job.

Q: How do you get money?
When I arrived, I was given a bank account, and it helps me a lot to buy food.

Q: Do you like London?
Yes. It’s safer than Sudan. People in London are nice, and it is a country full of experiences.

Q: Where in London do you like the best?
Camden and King’s Cross.

>>RIHANA SENAY, 21 interview by Matt Hardy
Q: So, growing up, what was it like?
I grew up in Kirkos in Ethiopia, it’s the most central area of the country. The crime was high and it was mostly a bad place for kids to grow up. Apparently, there were lots of prostitutes but I didn’t see much of that.

Q: What was Kirkos to you?
It was beautiful to me, lots of mixed lifestyles and everyone grew up together. We were all family; the social life was the best – everyone was your parents. I love it and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Q: How did you end up in Islington and what’s it like?
I was in Ethiopia until I was 12, my mum was in the USA and my dad was already in London. I lived with my grandmother and I moved with my sister for a better life. London’s culture is the same as Ethiopia’s, there are loads of religions and lifestyles but people see your background more here. What tribe are you from? Which community are you from? People point out differences here.

Q: So, what is Crashpad and how did you get there?
Crashpad is like my second home, I’ve been in and out for three years. I was homeless before going to New Horizon and then Crashpad. I then went to a hostel which was eventually shut down – it was violent and it closed because a lack of funding – and I was homeless again. I then spent a year in Crashpad before going to a hostel. It was £285 per week and I was homeless again because I couldn’t afford it. I went to Crashpad for a third time and now I’m in shared accommodation. Crashpad is home, at Crashpad the past is the past and everyone comes together with respect.

Q: What next?
I would like to go back to Ethiopia, but not without the money. I would want to make a difference once I graduate from University. I’m planning to build a shelter or day centre. Its Pillion trust and Crashpad – Ethiopia style!

Q: Would you relive your life experience again?
Yes! It’s been the greatest experience, it’s taught me a lot and it’s taught me that blood isn’t everything. I’ve learnt who to rely on and who to trust. But I would choose to do it all again in a heartbeat.

  • Interviewer Matt Hardy’s twitter is @thepoliticosu
  • Follow his personal twitter on @matthardyjourno

 

On the Romania team: Pandora Khody

After two years of homelessness, linguist Pandora Khody, 21, works long hours to ensure she’s got her own place to go back home to. A big fan of fashion and art, here Pandora explains how life is looking up since she discovered the Pilion Trust. Q&A with Nicola Baird

Pandora Khody from the #HearMeSpeak team styling her selfie. (c) PK

Q: What’s your connection to Islington?
“I came to London when I was 10 or 11 and grew up in west London, then I moved around a lot. I used to rough sleep around Islington for a while, from 18 – 19 years old. Now I live in east London. I’ve lived in so many places.”

Q: How did you discover the Pilion Trust?
“Through my friend Fardowsa – she introduced me to Savvas [CEO of the Pilion Trust which runs a night shelter for young homeless Londoners]. On the day I got in touch with him I went to stay at the Crash Pad. I thought it was going to be a hell hole but I felt really safe and nurtured.”

“Society lacks understanding about the problem of homelessness. Being homeless as a young female adult is very common, especially around Islington. The health care, government, media and stereotypes that we face for being homeless is very harsh. We need to raise the red flag. We need more support – hostels, shelters, access to food, clothing, money and counselling.”

Q: Are you working?
“Since December I’ve been working at Ugg (a famous Austalian sheepskin boot brand) in central London and really enjoy it. One thing I really like about my work is there are so many tourists and I’m able to use all my languages. It makes me look back a couple of years and think oh my god I’m here. I love the staff and conversations with the customers.”

Q: How are you feeling?
“I’d been homeless for three years and a bit. I never really thought I’d be working where I am, or I’d be renting and earning money. I always looked down on myself. If it was not for Savvas, and my partner, I’d not be here. Life can always improve but I’m very happy with my life.”

Q: Why did you get involved in Engage London?
“I like to get myself involved in activities and experience new things. Because of Savvas I was confident that #HearMeSpeak was going to help me gain knowledge, confidence and have a learning experience. And I enjoy being with everyone, the activities and being creative.”

  • See Pandora on the TV panel live Question Time show here.

Pandora Khody with fellow panellists at City university after a live TV Question Time in front of a studio audience. L-R Surelle Stevens, Pandora Khody and Fadz Ali (c) SS for Engage London

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Places Pandora likes in Islington
Angel – it’s really small but has so many things to look at and I love one vintage charity shop. It’s also got really nice restaurants and the Business Design Centre where they have shows. I like the way you can walk from Angel to Cally Road by short cuts and can walk to central London.”

King’s Cross– My all time favourite place is King’s Cross. It has an amazing canal view, fountains and events. Also it was there where I worked at London Fashion Week (LFW) at the University of Arts London (UAL) Central St Martin’s where I was accepted ,but didn’t take up the place. I could not have had the experience working for LFW if it was not for Savvas

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Pandora is one of the three members of Engage London team who is due to go to Romania to meet  Engage Europe. Safe travels, or as they say in Romania, cālātorii sigure.

Society lacks understanding about the problem of homelessness. Being homeless as a young female adult is very common, especially around Islington. The health care, government, media and stereotypes that we face for being homeless is very harsh. We need to raise the red flag. We need more support – hostels, shelters, access to food, clothing, money and counselling.