“I Just Want Them To Be Happy And Have The Lives That They Want, Lives They Could Never Have Dreamed Of.”

16th June 2023
Social Worker, Lyanne Kaleta

These are the thoughts of Lyanne Kaleta, a Social Worker with responsibility for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Northern Ireland.

The South Eastern Trust cares for a total of 33 unaccompanied children, aged 14 – 17 years old.

She has witnessed many young people arriving into their selected placements within the South Eastern HSC Trust area who are very thankful to be safe from harm, but who are naturally frightened and do not speak or understand English.

Many of these young people can become isolated very easily due to their lack of self-confidence and the difficulties they face communicating. .

Lyanne supports the young people on their journey from the moment they arrive in the country, until they can be responsible for themselves. A dedicated social worker, she ensures that they are placed in safe accommodation where they will thrive and learn vital life and independence skills that they will need to survive; skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting and maintaining their own personal property.

Lyanne explained, “I meet the young people that I work with very soon after they arrive in Northern Ireland. It is very obvious in that first meeting just how overwhelming this experience is for them. Many have come from refugee camps or were just sleeping on the street, so for them to have a safe place to stay and a team of people to look after them is hard for them to believe.

“Having a roof over their heads, even if it is only an assessment bed in a temporary placement, gives them a sense of self-worth, protection and hope for the future. We use a range of placements to accommodate each young person’s specific needs, while we put other important services in place to develop the young person’s personal skills, including signing up to English speaking (ESOL) classes to ensure they can overcome the huge hurdle of not speaking or understanding English.

“This role is so rewarding and I feel a real sense of pride when I see them developing from the scared and naïve person I first met, to a confident, independent young person ,striving towards a bright and fulfilling future. It’s amazing to see them flourish and get what they want, build social connections and take their first steps towards running their own lives.”