Young person smiling against a yellow brick wall

Kidane's story: Unaccompanied minor to independent adult

 Kidane fled Eritrea after his father was kidnapped and never seen again. Kidane made the dangerous journey to the UK, where he was supported by Centrepoint into training and independence.

Life in Eritrea

​Kidane is from Eritrea, where he lived in a hut, with his mother and siblings. He left his country in 2017 at just 15- years-old. His father was detained when he was young, and he has very little memory of him. His mother explained to Kidane that the soldiers took his father and there had been no contact since. This scared him as he believed the soldiers would take him next as he was the oldest male child. When the soldiers came and took the older males away, he says they were NEVER seen again. Once he turned 18, Kidane feared the soldiers would "take me away", and he would disappear forever just like his father.

Fleeing from danger

With support from his family, he made the decision to flee. He took a lift to Kassala, which is on the border of Sudan where he stayed for three days before moving on to Khartoum by lorry at a cost of 600 Sudanese pounds, paid for by his paternal uncle.

From there, Kidane travelled to Libya by Jeep where he stayed for one month in a detention Centre. He recalls being treated badly by the soldiers who physically and verbally abused him and beat him on a daily basis.

Arriving in Europe

After a month of suffering, he travelled to Italy before continuing his journey to Paris where he had no choice but to sleep rough on the streets before finding a way to Calais, where he spent five to six months in the Jungle near the port. Kidane remembers the police in Calais were physically abusive to him and he was subjected to regular beatings with their batons and tear gas being sprayed into his eyes.  One night, he jumped on a lorry with his friend  -  the door was open and they just got in. He had no idea where he was going, but he arrived in the UK, in January 2018.

Referred to Centrepoint

Once in the UK, Kidane was referred to Centrepoint when he was supported to start attending college to learn English.

After completing his English course, Kidane had hoped to continue on to do a plumbing or electricity course, but at the interview, he was told that his English wasn’t good enough. His key worker Bridgette says that at this point he became quite depressed and lacked motivation. He stopped attending college and disengaged.

During a key work session, Bridgette and Kidane discussed his options. He showed an interest in doing a Security qualification and they found a suitable course online. It cost £300 and they were able to apply to the Bursary fund to pay for it. The application was successful and Kidane was able to enrol on the course.

Marandi Foundation

This specific Centrepoint Bursary fund is financed by The Marandi Foundation and is specifically for unaccompanied minors. It is separate from the rest of the Centrepoint Bursary.

The Marandi Foundation is supporting our employment and skills work with homeless young people. Their generous grant pays for Trainers and Education and Employment Advisors who help young people to improve their employability and chances of finding work.

Moving forwards

Bridgette describes the impact that this course had on Kidane as profound. He became motivated again and called her every day to tell her how much he was enjoying it. He said he felt so lucky because lots of his friends wanted to do the same course, but couldn’t afford it and he was so lucky to be with Centrepoint and have access to the bursary fund. He has passed his exams and is awaiting is SIA card and hopes to get a security job as soon as it comes through. One day, he hopes to set up his own security company.

Thanks to this area of the Centrepoint Bursary, funded by the Marandi Foundation, young people like Kidane are able to access opportunities that otherwise might not be open to them.

With the employability and independence skills that Kidane has developed, he has been able to move on into his own home. We wish him every success in the future.