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Saturday Homework Club (SHWC)

Since 2004, we have been running this project to help refugee children who cannot afford to pay private tutorial fees. We use the expertise of children’s parents and local teachers to run this project. A number of volunteer former teachers and supply teachers are currently working with our club to support the project.

One of the areas of concern limiting refugee children’s academic achievements has been identified in the past as English language.  With refugee children forming the majority of our Saturday Homework club, it has often been noted that potential learners had insufficient English language skills to successfully relate their actual and full academic support needs and so risked missing out on important subjects they might desperately need to learn in order to improve their chances to succeed in their respective schools.  Care Link West Midlands has overcome this to a very large extent by employing multilingual volunteer teachers.

The Saturday Homework Club programme has been set up to help underachieving French speaking refugee children under 16 years of age from central Africa living in West Midlands (Birmingham, Sandwell and Coventry areas) to develop study skills learnt in their current schools placement. The programme helps children with literacy, numeracy, English and ICT difficulties so that they become motivated and enabled independent learners through after school activities during the year.

We meet with the children at the Parish of the Resurrection/Smethwick and at St. Margaret’s Church/Coventry on Saturdays to learn useful skills they need for their academic achievement. At both sites (Smethwick and Coventry), parents and children meet up with our volunteer teachers in the afternoon from 2.00pm to 4.00pm during the regular school year. Some other community members occasionally come to visit the club to be aware of what is going on and how things are being done.

The project runs classes in Maths, English and Science for underachieving refugee children from Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall and Coventry as well as giving extra support in reading and writing skills. The project also focuses on developing the children’s creative skills in writing, art/drama, improving their verbal communication skills, team-work and team building skills. We do organize every yearly educational trips to places of high educational influence like libraries, museums, parks, zoos, castles, etc.

1. Why Saturday Homework Club?

Teachers do not normally have enough time to tailor homework to the individual needs of each student especially those children whose English is a second language.

During a couple of meetings with parents to discuss issues related to children inclusion, a number of parents have shown interest in giving Care Link West Midlands responsibility to support our children with homework. They appear to have less time to spend with children during the week. As problems seem to be common for most children, putting them together in a classroom setting would make a difference.

2. What is being done?

  • Care Link West Midlands works with these children with the help of their teachers to assign specialised homework that children enjoy and can complete successfully using an approach where their first language is the support of education. Care Link West Midlands offers mentor programmes to offer extra support beyond what home and school can give. Mentor programmes pair children with adult volunteers who assist with the children’s special needs, such as maths, language arts, health, English, science, tutoring or career advice.
  • The programme makes connection between school work and Care Link West Midlands to bring meaning and fun to children’s homework experience.


  • Help refugee children whose English is a second language to be in school ready to learn.
  • Help year 3 to year 11 refugee children demonstrate competency over challenging subject matters including English, Mathematics, Arts, History, Geography, and Civics. Care Link West Midlands ensures that all these children using the club are able to increase their homework ability, learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for colleges and universities to become active and responsible citizens.
  • Care Link West Midlands teaching force has access to programmes for continued improvement of their professional voluntary skills and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to unstuck and prepare all French speaking African refugee students for the next century.
  • African French speaking children to be among the first best students in Mathematics and Science achievements.
  • Every child refugee attending the club to be literate and to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the labour market and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
  • Every child attending Saturday Homework Club sessions to be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorised presence of firearms and alcohol and to offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.
  • The programme (SHWC) promotes partnerships that increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.

4. Activities

The following activities are part of the Saturday Homework support activities

  • Every child matters activities
    1. Raise awareness in children on health, Road safety.
    2. Leisure activities, health & safety
    3. Enjoyment and achievement
    4. Making a positive contribution in exile land
    5. Highlight and promote good practices
  • The respect agenda (prevention and/or reduction of anti-social behaviour by children and young people, drug abuse/alcohol and gun culture.
  • Teenage parents (deliver a message on preventive strategies targeting teenagers considered “at risk” of becoming teenager parents.
  • Promoting social inclusion & integration in full of African refugee children regent arrivals (learn a little bit of English history, English mode of life, English culture, English economy/understanding currencies, English politics and governance; example king Dome Versus Republic, English education system, etc.)

Additionally, we compliment tutoring with periodic motivational activities for our students such as educational documentaries that serve to activate discussion and self-expression. It is also a useful mentoring tool that is both fun and a learning experience for the students. The SHWC has also integrated its activities with both the Birmingham and Sandwell library systems, participating in the “Summer Reading Club” programme. The self-esteem of our students has greatly improved following their exposure to the entire SHWC programme and especially the added value of multi sport activities that the project has incorporated and embedded to go hand in hand with the homework club activities.

5. Our experience or our organisation’s experience in this type of project

We have significant experience in running this project and our services have improved as a result of review and scrutiny by ContinYou and our continuous membership with National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRC) Quality Framework.

Saturday Homework Clubs has received recognition from the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education - “ContinYou”, being awarded a GOLD AWARD in maintaining Higher Level Quality standards in the provision of supplementary education to disadvantaged children. 

Youth Club (YC)

The youth Club programme helps young people to have access to a wide range of services they need (employment, further education, skills training, family matters, youth matters etc).

The club helps to ensure that the most disadvantaged young refugees have access to opportunities that will improve their life chances, enhancing their sense of health and well-being and help them integrate into and feel part of the wider community.   This programme helps our young people divert from a life of crime as a means of resolving issues associated with poverty. It helps support outing activities for life limited young people, giving them and their families including foster families wonderful memories, and helping them to socially develop.

It provides a floating support service for young refugee Care Leavers, to enable them to develop or maintain their skills to live independently in society.

To be part of the club, potential service user must -

  • Be 18+ years of age,
  • Refugees with UK status and recourse to public funds,
  • Reasonably demonstrate that they do not pose an unsupportable risk to themselves or other service users

We accept referrals from individuals, support workers, social workers, GPs, solicitors and welfare organisations. We encourage any prospective service users to visit us first and meet the staff for further information on the availability of the service, and the service delivery details.

Where required and as part of the support offered, Care Link West Midlands can identify and arrange for sign post to more appropriate support services if those services are not available within Care Link West Midlands support package.  

General Support (GS)

Under general Support heading, the following is a list of the activities that Care Link West Midlands does on behalf of its target group:

  • One to one support
  • Advice, information and guidance
  • Advocacy
  • Help with benefit claims
  • Assistance with the completion of forms and other paperwork
  • Referral for legal advice
  • Help in gaining access to other services
  • Assistance in accessing health or other treatment service if needed
  • Assistance in setting up support with other clients in similar position
  • Life coaching
  • Counselling and emotional support
  • Advice on employment issues
  • Assistance for clients to acquire advocacy skills
  • Information on hardship grants, help with budgeting and advice on money matters
  • Information on training college courses
  • Housing accommodation advice

Mental Health Awareness and Support (MHAS)

Refugees’ experience is essentially an experience involving a loss. Loss of what is obvious, tangible and external such as possessions i.e. a house, a work role, a status, a language, beloved members of the family or other closed relationships; also a loss which is less obvious, internal and subjective: loss of trust in oneself and others, loss of self-esteem, self-respect and personal identity. You are suddenly stripped off things which link you with your community. The absence of all these links brings on stress, anxiety, depression and disorientation.

The long waiting time to process an asylum application is very harmful for mental health. Refugees think they have gained freedom and then they realize that they still have to wait for it. They become passive, they lose their self-esteem, especially in cultures where the family welfare depends on the man.

Living in a center for a long time increases social isolation and inactivity.

In the UK asylum seekers have limited privileges, however after 6 months they are allowed to work while waiting for their application to be processed by the Home Office. They are also aware that the length of time spent on waiting for the application has no bearing on the ultimate decision. Unfavorable decision can result into deportation at any time. Therefore they live in a dilemma which causes concern and insecurity.

Roles change within the family: in the country of origin men are bread-winner, meanwhile in the host country women could find it easier to get a job (e.g. as housecleaner). The balance within the family cracks.

Split up of families: separation of families makes people nervous and paranoid. Men come first to Europe leaving their families behind. But family reunion is a long-lasting procedure. So women left back home complain about men who did not do enough to bring them to Europe. This causes mental health problems to men.

Sometimes, when family members arrive, they have been many years without seeing each other; they no longer understand each other and even the cultural unit of the family breaks up. The cultural shock is very severe from one country to another: the lifestyle changes, asylum seekers are not allowed to work. They remain isolated for a long time, passively waiting for a decision which will affect deeply their life. Their standard of living too decreases.

Minimizing mental health problems, even if minor ones, could be very harmful. There are long waiting list to be treated in specialized medical centers, sometimes up to two years. What is going to happen meanwhile?

Refugees frequently present symptoms such as headaches and tiredness which may be related to stress, financial pressures, language barriers, leading also to isolation and anxiety. Overcrowded council flats hides lone parenthood, especially for women who have lost or are separated from their husbands. Depression and loss of economic status for men make them feel powerless.

Refugee adult and children have specific experiences related to persecution, imprisonment, separation from their family and friends, uncertainty about their future. This causes anxiety and mental stress. There is a high level of psychological, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychiatric illness among refugees. Cultural factors inhibit refugees from seeking help and treatment for fear of being labeled as mentally ill.

Doctors do not always know the different ways a trauma can be released (i.e. when people cannot sleep, are nervous, have high/low blood pressure, feel pain in their stomach etc). Therefore difficulties over diagnosis may occur if issues relating to traumatic experiences and cultural background are not fully recognized and investigated.

Doctors do not take these patients seriously, they do not want to go into deep as for the psychological area. They do not recognize stress. A holistic approach to health is missing. Sometimes people are no longer able to speak: there is a wall of silence between them and doctors. Then medical doctors tend to minimize or even deny what happened to their patients, thus not providing them with the right treatment.

Carelink under this programme tries to bridge the above gaps through a range of activities like: + Offering immediate psychotherapeutic help to traumatized refugees + Setting up rehabilitation centers to help traumatized refugees to overcome their traumas

  • Alleviate the cultural shock (i.e. organizing camps, festivals together with local people)
  • Faster and more fair decision on the asylum application
  • Making the reunion with family members possible
  • Providing health education to refugees


Membership is open to individuals over eighteen or organisations who are approved by the Trustees.

The Trustees may only refuse an application for membership if, acting reasonably and properly, they consider it to be in the best interests of the Charity to refuse the application. There is a membership application available. A copy of this application may be requested by phoning our office on 0121 565 2612.

The Trustees will inform the applicant in writing of the reasons for the refusal within twenty-one days of the decision.

Once membership is approved, the details of the new member will be kept in our register of names and addresses of the members which is made available to any member upon request.

Charity information

Central Africa Refugee Link is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England No. 6218206 Charity Reg. No. 1109505.

Registered Office: Central Africa Refugee Link, 91 Hurst Road, Smethwick, Sandwell, West Midlands, B67 6LY, UK.

Tel/Fax: 0121 565 2612

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Care Link West Midlands was established  16th October 2004

We are not a grant making organization.