‘I felt like somebody was holding my tongue to stop me from speaking. I knew what I wanted to say, just not in my language.’
When she arrived in the UK from Iraqi Kurdistan in 2010, Shano Khorshed couldn’t speak a word of English.
Now, with the help of Fixers, the 18-year-old from Leeds is helping other refugees like herself to feel more welcome here.
Working with her team, Shano has designed coffee cup sleeves featuring phrases written in Arabic and English to break down potential language barriers.
Her story was broadcast on ITV News Calendar on Thursday, September 7th.
‘I was in primary school and it was really difficult to make friends because I did not know how to communicate with them. I felt isolated and just very lonely,’ she says.
‘Our Fixers project is to try to make young refugees feel more welcome and not isolated because of their language.’
Click here to read more about Shano’s story and to see the coffee sleeves.
Also featured in the broadcast piece is fellow Fixer Alex, who spent some of his childhood living in South America.
He says: ‘I was born in Leeds, but me and my family moved to Venezuela and I was raised there until I was about four before coming back to England.
‘My brother was in nursery because he was a year below me. I’d find him at school and we would talk to each other as both of us spoke Spanish and not English.’
Supporting the project is Abdou Sidibe, from The Children's Society, who appears in the film.
He says: ‘The main challenges for young refugees are a sense of isolation and being lost, scared of not knowing the environment, the culture and not having the language. The majority would be fleeing some sort of persecution or conflict.’
Speaking about her project, Shano adds: ‘I would feel great if these coffee sleeves could help an individual. It would make me feel like I have done something to help the world even if it is a small thing.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.