While volunteering with CodeYourFuture, you will meet many kinds of students. Broadly, we offer our programme to refugees, asylum seekers and people from a number of disadvantaged backgrounds. This page will help you better understand the situations of some of our students as well as the proper etiquette to use.
What's the difference between 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker'?
A Refugee is someone who has been granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). Refugees have the right to work. There are no restrictions on the type of work they can do, so their job types can vary - they may earn a decent wage or have a minimum wage job. Refugees may already have a tech education or be absolute beginners, however, their technical qualifications may not be locally recognised. The trauma of being displaced can leave physical and mental scars that prevent them finding meaningful work in their new country of residence. They may also suffer from discrimination, isolation and housing issues. Our focus on cultivating soft and tech skills, our emotional support and the safe space our community provides are designed to help refugees find and keep meaningful employment.
Some of our previous refugee students have included:
Jax (not a real name). He had a good job (over 35k) and was educated, but dreamed of working in tech. Because of the trauma he sufferred he had mental health challenges in moving to tech without help.
Kano (not a real name) was a refugee with a great computer science background but because of a combination of mental health and family difficulties, he was unable to find employment.
CYF helped both of these people gain confidence and the tech skills needed to work in the local tech industry. We also then helped them both find great jobs in tech.
An asylum-seeker is a person that has initiated a legal process in their new country to be recognised as a refugee, but whose claim is in process by the goverment. Asylum seekers are in legal limbo and they have no right to work. They cannot get a job until they obtain the right to work in their new country of residence. Asylum seekers can do volunteer work, but there are restrictions on the type of volunteering they can do. If you have more questions about the type of volunteering that asylum seekers can do, please check with your local CYF team. There may be restrictions on certain types of study for asylum-seekers. CodeYourFuture is a vocational school, but we don't currently offer an official qualification, so there is no issue with accepting asylum seekers onto our course. As with Refugees, asylum seekers may experience mental health issues, integration challenges, housing issues, loneliness and many other issues. The difference is that these situations are often prolonged due to the daily uncertainty of whether they will be granted permission to stay or not. It can take months or years for asylum applications to be resolved, ending either with acceptance or rejection. This means asylum seekers may be asked to leave even after building a life in a new country over a number of years. Our focus on cultivating soft and tech skills, our emotional support and the safe space our community provides are designed to helps aslyum seekers feel less lonely and keep an active mind during the asylum process. In addition, if they are granted refugee status, they are prepared to find and keep meaningful employment in tech.
Some of our previous asylum seeker students have included:
Max (not a real name) went from asylum seeker to refugee. Max had a tech background, but suffered from social anxiety and couldn't find a job. CYF helped them gain confidence and the tech skills needed to work in the local tech industry. Once their refugee status was granted, they found a good job in tech.
Do's and don'ts for interacting with these groups
- Treat each student as a complete and complex human. They are more than their trauma.
- Treat each student as you would any other student you might teach.
- Behave in a manner that shows and proves you are approachable, trustworthy and safe.
- Be patient. It's important to understand that people's situations may be very difficult. Some people do have to contend with internet issues, for example, or have more severe issues with health or finances linked to their current situation.
- Ask invasive questions about their past experiences or reasons for leaving their country of origin. It is none of your business and they do not owe you their story. Think. Would you ask someone you barely know about a traumatic event like sexual abuse or a bereavement before you had even had a conversation with them?
- Betray the trust of students. When you say you will do something, do it. This can be as small as getting back to them about homework or solving a big issue for them. Building trust in the community is extremely important.
- Assume you know everything about being an asylum seeker or refugee. Each case is different and no amount of research will replace a real, lived experience.
Resources to learn more or support refugees and asylum seekers
There are lots of incredible foundations and groups out there making information available for asylum seekers and refugees, as well as supporting them in a myriad of ways. Some of the groups even work with CodeYourFuture to help us find the students who want to study with us. Here are some places you can start your research:
There are many local groups with that we work with or and that you can get involved with to help your community. We will continue to add to this section to make these known.
What other groups does CYF teach?
Currently, CYF currently considers applications from the following groups, most of which are self-explanatory:
- Single parents with low income
- Individuals experiencing mental health issues
- Individuals with physical disabilities or learning difficulties
- Ex-offenders struggling to reintegrate and find work
- Individuals from minority backgrounds who are under-represented or face discrimination in pursuing careers
- Individuals who have been unemployed for a long period of time
The only one of these that may require some explaining is minority backgrounds. This may differ from country to country, but largely it refers to those of a BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnicity) background, women and non-binary individuals, all of whom are largely under-represented for various reasons in both tech and more widely in the job market. For details on how we make decisions on accepting individuals from any of the above groups in this section, see the Course Eligibility page.