Batoul Erjf isn’t your typical fifteen-year-old. Batoul is resilient, confident and above all else, aspirational.
PYF first met Batoul and her family when they arrived in Coventry as refugees in April 2016.
The Erjf family experienced losing their home and large farming business due to bombings, along with the trauma of their father becoming disabled and being separated from each other, unexpectedly reuniting months later in Lebanon and seeking refuge in the UK.
Batoul and her brothers; Abdullah, Mustafa and Muahaned all began to attend our Involved Hub, a session designed for newly arrived young people to learn conversational English, develop confidence and start to integrate within their local communities. The Erjf family attended every single week and we soon saw a huge improvement in their English language abilities along with their confidence.
Batoul had been out of formal education from the age of eleven in Syria but when coming to the UK was placed straight in to year ten to complete her GCSE’s. For a lot of young people, the pressure of GCSE’s is overwhelming, however Batoul is taking it all in her stride, with aspirations of a future at Cambridge University to study medicine.
Seeing this passion for learning and development of confidence, PYF offered the Erjf’s an opportunity to increase their skill sets and achieve recognised qualifications. Batoul and her brothers have now completed their Level 1 Sports Leaders Award increasing skills around organisation, planning, communication and teamwork through the medium of sport.
Once completing this award, Batoul’s ambitions turned achieving the Level 3 Sports Leaders Award which is working at a level equivalent to A Level with the addition of 16 UCAS points toward her future University application and alongside thirty hours of volunteering.
“English is your key to a better life in the UK, don’t be shy or scared to practice, just keep practicing.”
Batoul’s high energy and bold approach to volunteering shows such commitment and maturity that staff at PYF are always pleased to have her on board with the team when delivering sessions. Batoul has become essential when working with other newly arrived young people, empowering them through discussing her own experiences and also not taking no for an answer! Batoul is authoritative when it comes to encouraging people to practice their English speaking, presenting at a City Council welcome event for families who had only been in the country for four weeks that “English is your key to a better life in the UK, don’t be shy or scared to practice, just keep practicing.”
Batoul and her family have become such a part of Positive Youth Foundation that they are engaged in programmes across the entire organisation. Batoul even completed her secondary school work experience with us, completing a whole week of tasks including supporting session delivery in other schools and our across our community programmes, with some office admin tasks thrown in!
We can’t put into words how proud we are of Batoul and her brothers. They have achieved so much more than formal qualifications, they have also gained valuable, transferrable life skills, all supported wholeheartedly by their very humble parents. We have had the pleasure to be welcomed into the family home for a home cooked breakfast, discussing all things related to their move into Coventry. The Erjf family exude warmth and are active members of Coventry’s vibrant, multi-cultural community.
We are looking forward to the future, watching Batoul and her family progress and achieve.
Next up, a residential trip to the Isle of Wight for four days of activities and volunteering across the island with thirty other young people from across Coventry. When talking of their hopes and fears of the trip, Batoul exclaimed confidently “I am fearless, I just want to make new friends and have fun!”