We are devastated by the loss of phenomenal young campaigner, Aisha Hamzat, who passed away in December 2022.
Aisha campaigned for the rights of children in care and care leavers, drawing on her own experience to change and improve lives. Aisha volunteered with NYAS for almost three years as a campaigns adviser. She was as thoughtful and kind as she as was eloquent and passionate, and her legacy will have a lasting impact.
In Aisha’s own words, her experience of growing up in care could have been a lot better. She said that “children in care are often underestimated” and worked hard to change that perception. A strong champion of advocacy and rights, Aisha encouraged her peers “to be confident that we know what we are entitled to.” Her advice on behalf of the care-experienced community to professionals was that “we want people who are kind, patient and care about our story”.
Brilliant and honest
NYAS was lucky enough to host Aisha for work experience over three months in 2021. During that time, she helped to organise a debate involving a Welsh Government Deputy Minister, spoke at a national youth justice seminar on reducing criminalisation, and worked with psychologists at the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) on predicting complex PTSD in foster care.
Aisha was in her element whenever speaking about the need for a better world. We captured some of the feedback to her presentations where people rightly described her as “brilliant”, “impactful”, “honest”, “eloquent”, “powerful” and “articulate”. Despite being so inspiring, Aisha always remained humble and would see her contributions as simply telling it as it is.
One of the causes most important to Aisha was ‘My Things Matter’, a campaign she and her fellow campaigns advisers co-produced with NYAS that aims to end the use of binbags for children’s belongings when they move home while in care. Aisha believed it was important that local authorities signed up “to make sure every child feels worthy, moving with respect and dignity with a better chance at being positive about their new move”.
Aisha convinced her local authority, Bexley, to be among the first to sign the campaign pledge and improve their moving home practices. Aisha’s message, before picking up a national award for the campaign, was that “a successful move is where you and your things are treated with respect”. She urged society to “let all children see value in themselves no matter how little or how much they have”.
Outside of NYAS, Aisha made huge strides on behalf of migrant children and those experiencing complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Throughout Aisha’s time studying English Language with Communications at Canterbury Christ Church University, several of her chosen projects focused on whether care-experienced young people felt supported by their corporate parents. As Aisha quoted in her dissertation, “children will flourish when they have their rights respected”.
The loss of Aisha will continue to be felt by all who knew her, but we are immensely proud of the work we achieved together.
Aisha was respected and liked by all who met and campaigned alongside her, which included other campaigns advisers. Aisha told us how she found it “empowering to be a part of a group of such driven young people who will stop at nothing to improve the lives of other young people under the care of local authorities.”
Here is an extract of a tribute written by her friend and fellow campaigns adviser, Sunny:
“Aisha, you will be a very big loss to the campaigns advisory group, NYAS and the world. Always making us laugh and pulling us through life’s struggles, creating hope and happiness, being an inspiration to those around you. Striving for a better system with a smile on your face.
You were one of a kind and always will be. I was going to say you had so much to offer the world but I think you already offered it. In fact, you absolutely smashed it.”
Aisha’s legacy is clear. She wanted a fairer world where children growing up in care had the same opportunities as their peers. If you want to read or listen to more of Aisha’s own words or of the campaigns she helped produce, please check out:
- “My Things Matter” – a NYAS campaign co-produced with Aisha and her fellow campaigns advisers, aimed at ending the use of binbags for children’s belongings when they move home while in care.
- “Complex PTSD in young people in care"- co-authored by Aisha Hamzat, Dr Rachel M Hiller and Professor Helen Minnis.
- “CAMHS around the Campfire: Predicting Complex PTSD in Foster Care” – Aisha speaks about her experiences with mental health and accessing services [39.37 – 48.00]
- Taking care: How local authorities can best address immigration issues of children in care”- Published by South London Refugee Association and Coram Children’s Legal Centre, leading with “Aisha’s Story”.
A tree has been planted in Aisha’s memory in Danson Park, Bexley, London. We hope it grows proudly and flourishes as Aisha did.
If you are being affected by grief or loss, you can contact The Good Grief Trust to discuss anything that is troubling you.