Case studies

Merlin and Flora

Merlin says:

‘When I first arrived in the UK it was a real shock, even simple things like crossing the road were different and I nearly got run over several times because I was watching o­n the right instead of the left.  The food and the weather were also a big shock and I was not prepared for it at all. I miss Cameroon very much as it’s my country and if I had the opportunity I would go back, but since we started mentoring I have started to think that I might like to stay in the UK. 

Mentoring has been very important to me and it is very useful to a family who arrives in a totally unknown country.  It’s like a child’s first steps; we learn lots of things.  Even though I arrived in the UK nearly two years ago now, I have learnt a lot more from the short time I have had a mentor than I did in the years before.  The assistance offered to me has been very beneficial and I would like other people to be given it as well.’

Flora says:

‘ I wanted to become a mentor for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I am originally from France and therefore am really aware of the difficulties of speaking a different language in a new country.  I wanted to have the chance to meet refugees from French spoken countries in order to help them with their English.

Another reason for becoming involved is that I cannot feel indifferent to what is going o­n in Africa at the moment.  As a European, I feel we have a certain responsibility for what is happening over there.  I was also very interested in learning more about the day-to-day realities of being a refugee, having met several refugees before through my teaching.

Mentoring has given me another perspective and a better understanding of the problems that people who are forced to leave their own countries face.  Meeting Merlin and discussing his life since he arrived in the UK made me aware of how difficult it can be to adapt to a new country, culture, people and language and just how isolated you can feel.

I have now met up with Merlin several times and it is always really enjoyable.  We have recently been meeting up in town which has meant that I can introduce him to different places and show him where to get the best coffee and cakes!

It is really essential that refugees who arrive in an unknown country, many of who can barely speak the language, are given the opportunity to meet with someone they can talk to who knows how things work in that country.

Mentoring has been really rewarding.  Before meeting Merlin I knew nothing about Cameroon and speaking to him has really helped me to be more aware of what it means to be a refugee.’

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