Ishmael escaped Calais for security in the UK with the help of Safe Passage, one of three refugee charities supported by Guardian readers in 2016

Last October, Ishmael was one of many despairing migrants living in huts in Calais, risking his life regularly in an attempt to stow away in trucks to get to Britain, depressed to have fled violence in Syria only to find himself stuck in the squalor of the camp.

Now 18, Ishmael is settled with a foster family in north London and his English — almost non-existent when he left Syria alone aged 15 — is rapidly becoming fluent. He will soon begin a foundation course in politics at Birkbeck, University of London, the recipient of one of the college’s Compass scholarships, which provide financial support for asylum seekers.

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