Chrisann Jarrett is an LSE alumna, grapevine member and founder of Let US learn an organisation that works with young migrants to to fully contribute to UK society. Chrisann studied law in the class of 2017.
You graduated from the LSE not too long ago. How would you say your time at university has developed you as a person?
I would say university made me realise that it’s not always how hard you work; it’s the people you are surrounded by as well as your ability to think ahead that will enable you to succeed. One of the important things about having studied law at LSE is that the
intellectual rigour was great but the institution allowed me to develop as a person, recognising that intellect is only one ingredient to a fruitful career and that this must be supplemented by vision.
What are some of the (many) projects you are currently involved in?
I founded a project called Let Us Learn in 2014 which is currently being hosted by award winning charity Just for Kids Law. The aim being to create the conditions under which young migrants can fully contribute to UK society.
Let Us Learn is unique as our organisation is both youth driven and provides a positive outlook on migration. We seek to tackle root causes, not just the symptoms of the ‘problem’ by building resilience in young people whilst simultaneously working to uproot these problems.
I co-host our 6 months leadership programme with an Eisenhower Fellow.
Focusing on authentic leadership and equipping young people with the tools they need to be true changemakers in society. I also recently organised a parliamentary event, inviting young people and parliamentarians to encourage open dialogue. Lobbying is important and so developing a relationship with policy makers is crucial especially when many changes depend on legislative reform.
I have now started a secondment at the Greater London Assembly where I work as a Policy Adviser on the Mayor of London’s Citizenship And Social Integration Strategy.
You set up Let Us learn and it has been doing incredibly well since then. Talk us through how it came to be and some of its achievements?
After setting up Let Us Learn in 2014, I really did not realise how big it would become. We have grown from 3 people to over 900 young people being on our database, we work primarily with young people between the ages of 16-24, between us there are over 70 different countries, this brings diversity in experience, thought and abilities. Last month we received a national award for our campaign work. We have only two people working on the project, myself included but we have strategised, looked for opportunities and collaborated. Systemic change cannot come if you are a lonesome voice and so I believe partnership is key.
In 2015 we were a part of a ground-breaking Supreme Court Decision, which changed the legislation which barred young migrants (predominantly from commonwealth countries) from accessing student finance. This meant that student finance had to change their eligibility criteria, a change which we were involved in as we consulted the relevant government
department BIS on what the new criteria should look like. Such systemic change allows for thousands of young people to proceed to university with financial assistance. In 2017 our Young Gifted and Blocked campaign led to 16 universities changing their scholarship criteria allowing more young people to access them.
Additionally, I think it has become so successful because it is authentic. Our model engages the young person from the very beginning, the planning stage through to the delivery of our projects. Our strategy is to equip young people with the tools they need to take ownership of their narrative.
Having been empowered, young people can commit to developing their peers. We arecurrently the only organisation based in the UK, committed to doing this level of work amongst the youth.
What are some of the things you aim to impact further through your organisation? And how can anyone reading this get involved or help out?
We aim to impact wider public narrative when it comes to migration and to influence changes in immigration policy and enable young people to truly contribute to the society they live in.
As a resident of this country, I believe participation is important, if one cannot participate in the society they live in and have a say in key decisions that affect their lives then the democratic process is weak.Through Let Us Learn we want to create the conditions by which young people can truly participate, voice their opinions and really develop as young leaders.
The Brexit referendum and the divisive campaigning have further fragmented communities in the UK as seen in the rise of hate crime and xenophobic attacks towards migrant groups. The latest Home Office statistics show a 29% increase in recorded hate crimes in 2016/17. The need for a platform where young migrants in particular can raise their heads above the parapet and generate their own narrative is necessary. There are many ways those interested can get involved.
Our campaigning structure has a few avenues. The teams include:
Immigration & Research: Changing the immigration system to benefit all migrants in the UK, and to mobilise young migrants to campaign and take action on immigration issues impacting their lives;
Education: Raising awareness and mobilise children and young people within the education sphere;
Youth Development: Developing young migrant leaders who will take Let Us Learn forward and change the face of the immigration sector in the UK. We engage the young people in public speaking, workshops and our leadership programme;
Outreach and Events: Engaging with new young people and create a safe space for people to express themselves freely;
Fundraising: Developing new funding streams, planning and coordinating fundraising events.
Finally, what are some of your personal goals for the future? What should we expect?
Personal goal is to keep walking in my purpose, have impact, keep learning and qualify as a solicitor.