PEACH case study – Mariam and Abeba
Mariam and her mother Abeba joined PEACH in September 2010. The family is Black-African of Ethiopian origin. Mariam is 14 years old and has two brothers who are 13 and 16. Mariam receives free school meals (FSM) and is preparing for her GCSE exams.
As part of PEACH, Mariam has a mentor, Cathie, whom she sees on a weekly basis. Mariam and Cathie, who started mentoring in spring 2014, have spent a lot of time focusing on Mariam’s Maths and Science GCSEs as Mariam’s performance in these subjects showed cause for concern. Mariam’s 2014 summer school report suggested that Mariam was not investing sufficient time and effort into her Maths and Science work and had trouble concentrating. Mariam lacked in motivation and found the subjects boring.
During their mentoring sessions, Cathie and Mariam started setting personal goals around Mariam’s lack of effort, motivation and concentration with instantaneous results. Cathie was pleased with how Mariam was taking the goals on board and was coming up with additional goals on her own accord.
Nearly a year into their mentoring relationship, Cathie approached the Baytree team, saying that she was struggling to support Mariam with some of the higher level Science and Maths. Consequently Mariam joined a small weekly GCSE Maths tutorial group led by a professional tutor provided by the Minerva Trust, one of Baytree’s partner organisations. Several months earlier Mariam had been reluctant to invest any effort into her Science and Maths work.
Mariam is now making progress in Maths and Science and is willing to engage with the subjects. She is putting considerable effort into her work and is taking responsibility over her learning. Reflecting on her own progression Mariam said: ‘There’s no way I would have worked so hard in class and gone to the tutorial group if Cathie and I hadn’t talked about it in mentoring.’ Mariam still finds the subjects challenging but is more motivated and recognises the importance of working hard and giving it her best.
Mariam is also more mature and has gained in confidence. Cathie said that Mariam ‘is thinking about what kind of career she would like and taking her future more seriously’. Her growth in confidence is clearly reflected in her self-evaluation: ‘My leadership skills have improved and others follow my lead’. She is also more confident in her ability ‘to be creative and come up with good ideas’.
The PEACH programme has also had a profound impact on Mariam’s mother Abeba and their family life as a whole. When Abeba joined PEACH in 2010 she was experiencing many problems at home. She was very submissive, had low self esteem and did not speak up for herself. She was being bullied and bossed around by her husband. Her husband, who works during the night and sleeps during the day, expected Abeba to serve him food in bed. He would not leave the bed all day nor would he engage with his children. Her three teenage children disrespected Abeba too, spending most of their time in front of the television and refusing to do their homework and helping with household chores. The family as a whole would never sit down and have dinner together.
As part of her engagement in PEACH, Abeba attended numerous parenting sessions to discuss the value of good communication, self-respect and the importance of spending family time together. Abeba started to openly address the issues she was facing at home and soon realised that the exposure to both their father’s controlling and their mother’s submissive behaviour would most likely have negative repercussions on her children. She sought help from the parent coordinator on how to go about changing her situation for the better.
Mariam started to gain in confidence and started implementing the strategies she had learned at Baytree. Abeba decided to stop serving her husband food in bed and successfully resisted her family’s attempts to bully her. She has now managed to turn her family life around completely. Abeba reported that now all family members sit down and have dinner together and even play cards afterwards. They engage and communicate with each other, actively taking the time to sit down and discuss different topics and issues. Abeba has also introduced homework sessions in the kitchen which have been well-received by her children.
Mariam’s and Abeba’s relationship has also benefited greatly from this change. Abeba reported that being on the PEACH programme has made a huge difference to Mariam. She said: ‘The way she communicates with me – I don’t know how she changed but she has changed completely. She just comes up to me sometimes and kisses me for no reason’.
The parent coordinator said that ‘Abeba is a different woman now. She is more confident, stands up for herself, and radiates dignity and self-respect.’ With the help of the parents team, she is learning organisational and time management skills. Abeba has also been learning about the importance of making time for herself and has started thinking about the future. Her dream is to open a cake decorating business and she is now receiving one-to-one lessons to improve her handwriting.
Into School case study – Feven and Danait
Feven and Danait, both 16, are unaccompanied Eritrean refugees. In February 2015 they left their families, homes and everything they knew behind in pursuit of a new life free from oppression. Their journey to the UK took them via Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Italy and France: they finally arrived in the UK after five months and are now living in foster care. When Feven and Danait arrived they hardly spoke a word of English.
Both girls joined Into School in September 2015, where they attended ESOL classes twice a week and went on cultural trips around London. Both girls where matched with a mentor who provided them with one-to-one support and guidance, helping them apply to schools and colleges within the area as well as helping them adjust to life in the UK.
Motivated from the start, both Danait and Feven embraced the opportunity to learn English in a small and friendly class, and made friendships with the other girls on the programme. Their English skills improved rapidly and with it their confidence. Only a month into the programme the girls, both keen cooks, joined in the GEMS cookery club, giving them the chance to meet other girls and put their English skills into practice.
With the help of her mentor, Danait gained a place on an intensive ESOL course at Croydon College and started attending in November 2015.
Due to delays in receiving the required papers from the Home Office, Feven’s transition into the mainstream education system was unfortunately less fluid. This initial setback caused a dip in her confidence and for a few weeks, her English did not show any signs of improvement. Continuous ESOL lessons, one-to-one support and engagement in the centre’s activities were decisive in counteracting her isolation, providing her with a sense of purpose during this difficult time and ultimately overcoming this confidence drop. After five months on the Into School programme and finally having received her papers, Feven obtained a place at Bromley College in January 2016.
Both Danait and Feven enjoy spending their free time at Baytree. Baytree provides the girls with a safe place, gives them a sense of belonging and is for them a home away from home. Danait says: ‘Baytree is a good place. It is good for me and the people are good.’ Their college timetables permitting, the girls still come to Baytree most days of the week, joining in ESOL classes, as well as the community yoga classes. They have been matched with transition mentors who support them in managing their workload whilst they are adapting to a new school system.
Most recently, Feven and Danait have also been ‘promoted’ by the Youth Team. They no longer attend the cookery class as beneficiaries, but have taken on the role of support volunteers, helping the lead volunteer deliver the sessions and making sure the younger girls behave and understand their assigned tasks.
Despite all the hardship they have gone through, Feven and Danait always have a smile on their faces. Their confidence and abilities in English have greatly improved since they joined Baytree in September and it is extremely rewarding to see them so happy and settled in their new London life. In her own inspiring words Feven says: ‘I am happy to be in England. It is very nice. I don’t have my family but I have a foster family and Baytree and England is freedom!’
Feven and Danait are determined and hard-working students. Danait’s dream is to become a nurse and Fevens’ dream is to become a doctor, and now that they are on the path to gain the necessary qualifications, they are one step closer to making their dreams a reality.