Nelson Alexander supports local youth of refugee background with the Helping Hand Project

Nelson Alexander embodies the true spirit of a community partnership. People and organisations in our community help make our community a better place for others. There are people who volunteer their time to assist newly arrived young people. Also, community partners such as Nelson Alexander Charitable Foundation who donated funds from a local auction to The Helping Hand Project. These partners embody strong community values of working together to create a more harmonious neighbourhood.

For over 10 years a group of dedicated volunteers have provided mentoring support through The Helping Hand Project to newly arrived refugee youth to help them settle into their community. The program is about breaking down barriers and building community networks, so they can reach their full potential.

Young people from Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burma, Somalia and Iran, have been supported during this time. It has enabled them to develop new friendships, connect with community through sport, recreation, education and work.

Many of these young people have limited resources and fewer opportunities, they face multiple barriers to accessing education and employment and social and recreational opportunities.

With the generous support of  the Nelson Alexander Charitable Foundation, the program has been able to support refugee youth by matching them with a volunteer, so that they may thrive.

One such example is a partnership between volunteer mentor Lexi, and her mentee:

“I am mentoring a young woman aged 15 from Ethiopia. She came to Australia in 2015 to reunite with her father and stepmother in Flemington. She attends a local school in Year 11. At first, she was very shy and often would speak in her native language through her mother.

Over a seven month period, I have met with her every couple of weeks. During this time, I have seen her develop her confidence – both in her English language and her sense of self, and it has been a privilege to be part of her journey.

Initially our sessions were driven by me, with a focus on her goals to improve her English language and homework support. Over time, trust developed in our relationship, she has since grown and developed her assertive skills. She is now able to ask for other help that she needs.

For example, researching local sport and recreation programs, assistance with preparing for her learner’s permit, and discussing inter cultural differences. She is clear about what she wants from me and is able to prioritise these needs.

The mentor relationship has grown from practicing English and homework to include support with education matters, where I attended parent / teacher interview. We have enjoyed shopping trips, fitness activities and sharing our different cultures. She has a love of dance and wow, can she dance! Our partnership has grown as has her sense of belonging to her community. I’m looking forward to continuing my mentoring experience with this young woman and seeing how it will further evolve in our partnership.”

Chairman Noel Newell said, “We are very proud of the tremendous support we receive from our local community. With the assistance of organisations such as Nelson Alexander we are able to provide newly arrived young people, with an opportunity to feel welcome, supported and connected to the local community. On behalf of the young people we work to assist, we would like to convey our sincere thanks to all staff and members of the committee at the Nelson Alexander Charitable Foundation who made this possible.”

Article provided by: Helping Hand Project

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