Mental health needs among young refugee populations


Event type Day Conference

The Station, Silver St, Bristol BS1 2AG

How do we effectively respond to the mental health and well-being needs of young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers living in Bristol and beyond? 

Co-produced by ACAMH, Creative Youth Network, Art Refuge UK

Takeaways and learning points

  • Better understand the cultural, social and mental health needs of young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers, and how these young people can be supported to adapt to a new life in the UK
  • Discover flexible and creative ways to respond to their mental health and well-being needs from multi-modal perspectives
  • Learn from current research in supporting best practice and developing effective care pathways between organisations
  • Find out about models and approaches used by local agencies in Bristol that can be adapted to different working contexts
Building a house. Bristol. Copyright ArtRefugeUK 2018
Building a house. Bristol. Copyright Art Refuge UK 2018

About the event

Taking place in Refugee Week 2019, this one day conference is framed by an acknowledgement of the extraordinary resilience and capacity to cope of the young refugees and asylum seekers living in Bristol and beyond, most of whom are unaccompanied. Displaced from their country of origin due to war, persecution and poverty these young people are also dealing with trauma, loss and massive adjustments to a new life in the UK.

Led by the ACAMH Avon Branch, joined by experts in the fields of social care, art therapy, psychology, asylum law and translation services, and co-produced with local charities and support groups including Creative Youth Network and Art Refuge UK, the event focuses upon broad political issues and on-the-ground responses through research presentations and case studies. It explores how we can effectively respond to the mental health and well-being needs of young refugees and asylum seekers, and ways to develop locally relevant provisions and collaborate so to empower these young people within our communities.

Who is the event for?

Anyone interested in the mental health and well-being of young refugees and asylum seekers in our communities.
This includes mental health professionals, in particular clinicians, educational psychologists, psychotherapists, arts therapists; professionals from education, health, youth and community settings; refugee support service workers, social workers, lawyers, teachers, youth workers, charity workers, artists and activists.


Dr Sayi Thomas Chair for the day
Sayi is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a qualified teacher. She has worked with children and families seeking asylum and refuge in Bristol for over 17 years. She has worked therapeutically with unaccompanied minors both in NHS CAMHS and in the voluntary sector.
Sayi is temporarily working as Clinical Lead in a Bristol charity that works therapeutically with children and families. She supervises and also teaches locally on courses organised by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust & Gloucestershire Counselling Service Partnership.

Sarah Hunt
PhD Candidate working in the field of psychology at the University of Leicester, UK. Sarah conducted Participatory Action Research with over 100 stakeholders to investigate the problem of ‘unmet’ needs among asylum-seekers and refugees living in the UK, using voices as evidence for policy and practice. The perspectives of service users and service providers demonstrate the impact of post-migratory living difficulties on mental health and wellbeing and gaps in service provision. Sarah’s research addresses the mental health priorities of asylum-seekers and refugees living in the UK and presents research-based evidence for improved policy and a more equitable service provision.

Professor Ravi Kholi
Professor of Child Welfare at University of Bedfordshire and a leading expert in social work with unaccompanied minors in the UK. He is particularly interested in what becomes of young people who seek asylum in richer countries and how they adapt throughout their migration and resettlement.

Bobby Lloyd
Visual artist, HCPC registered art therapist, supervisor and educator, working in the UK and internationally since the mid 1990s within contexts of political upheaval and displacement. CEO of Art Refuge UK, she has led its project in Calais on the France-UK border since 2015.

Dr Lucy Arnsby-Wilson
Lucy is the lead Clinical Psychologist for Unaccompanied Minors at GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) where she offered 1:1 and group interventions for young people. She runs bi-monthly consultation groups with the young peoples foster carers and regularly conducts expert witness work for UASC asylum claims.

Kathryn Cronin
An Immigration, asylum, nationality, children’s and family lawyer at Garden Court Chambers, she brings particular expertise in working with unaccompanied minors.

Imran Shah
CEO, Language Services UK Limited & SOFTECH Business Services Limited. Cultural (Asian and Afghan Culture) Advisor, Entrepreneur is also MD of Languages Services UK Limited and SOFTECH Business Services Limited, is also a member of Muslim4Btistol community group, the purpose of the group is to reach out to individuals and other communities to build community cohesion between Muslims other communities living in Bristol.  Imran Shah, in his spare time visits other business owners (from BME background) to help them with any business issues they may be facing. Imran Shah provide platforms to refugees and asylum seekers to get training and necessary qualifications for any possibility of future linguistic career.