Recently Dream took part in a day long workshop with Headliners, to explore and challenge the misrepresentations of young refugees in the media. As part of the day she was supported to share her own story explore her opinions of what the local community and general public should know about the experience of young refugees.

The banner picture is her own self portrait and her work is part of a newly started collection of #YoungRefugeeVoices.

"My dad was a prostitution trafficker and my mum abandoned me. I was abused and forced to take drugs when I was just 14. Consequently I had to choose to either live the life they chose for me or live the life I dreamed to live.

I came in the UK when I was 16, I was still a child. I travelled all the way on my own. I had to meet a lot of different men who treated me as a grown woman. It was dangerous and I was scared.

When I first came here as an asylum seeker I lost myself. I was trying to hide from everything and I lost control of my life and became isolated within myself. I suffered from depression which led me to commit suicide. I prayed every single day and night, asking God to keep me alive.

I would like to feel that there is light for everyone, that there is an escape for all of us.

The days passed fighting my mental complications. So I did, I fought depression. I changed my life and I am now happy and positive about the future. I train and I am totally clean, I eat well and follow my education. I am now different because I am unique and special. I am not different just because of my immigration status.

My life has changed dramatically since coming in the UK. I feel confident, I feel hopeful, I feel free. My life has turned allowing me to focus on my education and becoming the person I always wanted to be, a person full of optimism and motivation who will have an impact on other people’s life.

A normal day for me is waking up early, have breakfast and head to the gym. After that, I eat my lunch and try to relax, read a book, go for a walk or visit delightful parks. During the winter I study and I am a full time student.

I want other young refugees and asylum seekers to know that everything will be alright at the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

I would like the media to portray young refugees and asylum seekers positively. I know many of them are talented and they have a lot to offer in this country. I would like to see their achievements and progress. We only wish that the chance could be given to us, equally as the other people.

The main thing I like about the UK is the support they offered me. They kept trying to support me even when I thought there is no escape for me. They didn’t give up on me. They offered me emotional help to overcome my difficulties and forget about the hurtful past.

In the future I would like to be a successful police officer and offer the help I have never gotten in my country. I would like to help the people feel secure and show them that we are there for them.

Also, I would like to help children and women who have suffered in their home country. Women are special and they should be treated with respect, women like me should be given the chance to live they childhood free without needing to grow up and become women at a young age. They should live their life free of violence and fear.

I would like to feel that there is light for everyone, that there is an escape for all of us. I want other young refugees and asylum seekers to know that everything will be alright at the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. "

Dream, 19 (name has been changed)

Headliners strongly believes that young refugee voices are powerful and that they deserve to be heard in their own words. As a result we are launching an appeal aiming to raise £5000 to fund workshops (like the one Dream took part in) with young refugees and asylum seekers and create a collection of young refugee voices that can be placed in the local, national and online press.

To support young refugees gain access to one of these workshops or to find out more information click here: #YoungRefugeeVoices Campaign. 

To read some of the other stories by young refugees and asylum seekers search the word refugee or #youngrefugeevoices on our website.