Case study

Lylla and Laura

Laura, 28, English Teacher and Student

I decided to become a mentor because I was saddened by the negative media coverage of refugees, and I wanted to take positive action.

When Lylla and I first started to meet, we tended to focus o­n improving her English, but as time went by we got to know each other better and became real friends. Our meetings became fun and we looked forward to seeing each other. It has been fantastic to see her confidence grow over the last year.

Together weíve explored museums and parts of London that I would never have got round to visiting otherwise. Iíve also been able to experience Afghan culture, from enjoying delicious spicy tea and traditional dopiaza to learning the odd new word.

Before I met Lylla I probably thought of refugees as a category, rather than as individuals but Iíve realised that people are pretty similar, no matter what country they come from. I would tell anyone thinking of becoming a mentor to definitely do it. It can really open your eyes to new cultures and means you become friends with someone you would never have met otherwise.

Lylla, 26, Mother and Student

I was forced to flee Afghanistan because of the war. I now live in Leyton with my nephew and two sons.

When I met Laura, I knew I wanted her to be my mentor as she was very sweet and well spoken. Since Iíve got to know her, I have found that she is always so well mannered and always so happy!

Laura has helped me to get out and about in London, taking me to see London sights, museums, art galleries and a Christmas carol concert. Together we have discovered so many things. Before coming to England I had never been o­n an escalator before, so she has taken me to the underground and now I am able to go and get o­n the trains by myself.

In the past, I was always very frightened to go to the park, in case some kids would say something to me. Not knowing the language can make it quite intimidating. But Laura has taken me and my youngest son o­n outings to the park and Iíve even been o­n my own a couple of times now.