“Learning to drive. That was my fostermum’s dream for me. I was a bit scared. But it was fine. I passed first time.”
Twenty-year old Hai has a flat of his own now but remains very close to his foster Mum. His guardian Hannah knew a good foster placement was the safest option for him, after the terrified fifteen-year old arrived here on his own from Vietnam.
“When the police found me, I couldn’t speak any English and I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t know who I could trust. My guardian always brought an interpreter. She explained things to me and helped me with the asylum process and legal appointments. The first person I could trust was Hannah. Without her, I don’t think I would have Refugee Status.”
Studying English at college and immersing himself in Scottish culture with his foster family helped Hai feel more confident about his new life. Through the Scottish Guardianship Service he enjoyed opportunities to meet other Vietnamese teenagers and they explored their new country together.
“Talking with people in the same situation as me, made a big difference. We didn’t feel scared anymore. We just felt safe. We were like little boys and little girls. We played outside and we weren’t scared of anything.”
Hai expanded his social circle and gained valuable work experience by volunteering at a British Heart Foundation charity shop.
“It was a new experience for me, and I made some Scottish friends. I volunteered for two years and learned to try new things.”
With the support of both his foster family and his guardian, the future’s looking bright.
“My dream job? I want to do an apprenticeship to be a carpenter or a mechanic. I’m going to try to save up so I can get a mortgage and buy a house.”
Over the last ten years, nearly 700 asylum-seeking and trafficked children and young people have been supported by the Scottish Guardianship Service. The service is run by Aberlour Children’s Charity in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council.