Lessons from 10 years of Life Skills programs in schools.

 

As we supported vulnerable individuals in our life skills programs across the UK, and internationally at refugee camps and post conflict zones, we focused on training mentors and teachers to work with deprived, insular minority ethnic communities to unlock the potential of their students. As we gathered feedback, we noticed a disturbing phenomenon. 

 

While we removed structural barriers to opportunity, using career and personality development tools, other obstacles became visible. These were even more sinister: collective resistance from inside communities and families wanting to raise their daughters and sons obedient, timid to keep them tethered to outdated ideas of honour in order to control their behaviour. 

 

After confidence-building sessions, our volunteers were often asked “what do I do if my father, brother, husband, mother, uncle or son will not allow me to continue this program?”  Students disappeared into forced marriages, into the void of their parent’s countries of origin. Clients dropped out suddenly as they were condenmed as too outspoken by their own communities. 

 

We paused to reflect on setbacks/ disappointments and saw a pattern emerging. We found that unspoken rules were preventing clients from accessing services, and as we pulled together community members and faith leaders, the ideas percolating in the discussions between these groups settled into the unjust sediment of honour-based abuse we could no longer ignore. We have a duty of care to the individuals dealing with HBA to be able to detect the signs and support their needs. 

 

You can learn more about the stories of HBA survivors in the “HBA: impact on careers & life” briefing document that looks at the testimonies of four survivors of HBA.