Remarkable student wins Prince’s Trust award

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A Harrogate student used his knowledge of modern slavery to win a major award.

Abbas Hassan, 17, won the Prince’s Trust Yorkshire and Humber Ascential Educational Achiever of the Year award.

“He left Sudan aged eight and then fled Libya as a teenager, eventually arriving at the Calais Jungle,” said a spokesman for the awards.

“The Red Cross then brought Abbas to England, where he was eventually sent to live with a foster family in Harrogate.

“Abbas arrived in England without any education, unable to read or write in Arabic, let alone English, but, with the help of the Prince’s Trust Achieve programme, which uses a variety of activities to build the confidence and motivation of young people who are struggling at school, he threw all his energy into his education and is now thriving.”

Abbas said: “I was born in Sudan but left with my uncle when I was eight. We rode to Chad on a donkey and then went by car with other people to Libya, but there we became estranged and I had no choice but to work on the farms.

“I learned to fend for myself and, although I’d always dreamt of a better life, it wasn’t until I was 15 that I managed to escape.

“I hid on a boat to Europe and then walked from Southern Italy to Northern France and the Calais Jungle.”

He added: “I wanted to learn, but it was very hard for me because I’d never received any education. I couldn’t even read or write in Arabic, let alone in English. I was scared because everything and everyone was different to me.”

It was when Abbas started at Rossett School that he was placed on Achieve, a Prince’s Trust programme that uses a variety of activities to build the confidence and motivation of young people who are struggling at school.

“It was nothing like what I expected. We did sailing, football and rugby, and I learned about architecture and historic buildings, the environment and horticulture. The people were so kind, and they opened my eyes to this country and helped me to make friends.”

Ambitious, kind and always trying to help others, Abbas threw all his energy into his education and is now thriving.

Abbas added: “I love learning and I love this country. To me, my heart is English because the people here have helped me feel good about myself and what’s coming next.”

Jo Clark, Abbas’s keyworker at Rossett School, said: “Most people would not have been able to tolerate the things he has endured and still remain a decent human being, but Abbas is remarkable – an incredibly resilient young man with a wonderful human spirit, who is starting to see the possibilities of what he might achieve in the future.”

Natasha Christie-Miller, chief executive of Ascential, said: “We’re honoured to present the Yorkshire and the Humber Educational Achiever award to Abbas this year. He should be proud of his progress and what he has achieved. We wish him every success for the future.”