As of 2010 there are an estimated four to five million Iranians living outside Iran, and the number of Iranians outside Iran continues to grow as persecution forces more to leave their home country, it is important to state that this number has possibly increased to six million. Outside North America, UK hosts the largest Iranian community outside of Iran. While there is a large number of Iranian students at the University of Manchester, Iranians also represent one of the top five nationalities for UK asylum applications alongside Pakistani, Iraqi, Afghan and Bangladeshi. In addition to Iranians, there are also other peoples who speak Farsi, including, Azerbaijani, Arminian, Kurdish, Indians and Tadzhiks, and Afghans who speak Dari (a variety of Farsi). This is a varied community with a variety of needs ranging from urgent legal, financial, and psychological needs, particularly for young students and those seeking asylum from political, religious, and gender-related persecution.
'Yaran' (which in Persian means 'Fellows') is a joint initiative launched in 2015 by Yaran Northwest [Link] as a not-for-profit organisation in collaboration with the UMPS, one of the largest and oldest Persian Student societies in the country to provide a variety of services to meet the needs of vulnerable Farsi-speaking teenagers and adults, new students, new immigrants, families, and couples in Greater Manchester who need urgent help with career advice, counseling advocacy, recovery, and wellbeing. This successful project was led by two British Iranian academics from the University of Manchester. Dr. Amir Keshmiri is currently a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering and the founder of the UMPS and Ms Melina Safari, the founder of Yaran Northwest, a psychologist, and currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Manchester.
The aim is to provide practical assistance via a focal point for this diverse community so that assistance can be more efficiently delivered to those who require it and its members can help one another more effectively. The focus of this project was primarily to tackle mental health issues amongst Farsi-speaking students and asylum seekers/refugees in the Greater Manchester area by organising free counseling sessions, social and cultural events, music concerts, theatre, lectures, Yoga/Pilate, etc. Over the years, the University of Manchester and Manchester/Stockport city councils have provided a significant amount of support.
As a result of this project, the number of students joining the UMPS and academics joining the UMPSN [Link] has increased significantly with currently over 1400 members. The UMPS was also recognised by the University of Manchester Student Union as the official student society [Link]. The therapeutic services provided by Yaran Northwest also vastly increased over the years. For instance, between Mar2016-Mar2017. in total 155 individuals with mental health issues were offered free one-to-one counseling sessions. These referrals were provided on a voluntary basis and came from a variety of sources, Self-referred, self-help services, Manchester Mental Health Trust, countless GP practices, Stockport women Centre, Salford Primary Care team, Stockport Council Ethnic Diversity Team, and Interpreters. In addition to this, we also received 96 referrals from Stockport. We also secured a contract to provide group workshops and sessions in North Manchester on behalf of Self Help Services. These sessions ran in 6-week blocks both in Central Manchester and North Manchester. 72 clients accessed these in total.
As a result of this collaboration, we were nominated by the University of Manchester Making Difference Award committee and won the award for the outstanding public contribution category in May 2019.
If you would like to book a free counseling session in Persian with one of our psychologists, please complete the booking form below and a member of the Yaran team will contact you shortly.