RefuAid and English UK
We work in partnership with RefuAid, a charity that works to restore independence and dignity to refugees.
RefuAid partners with UK language centres to give their clients access to the language teaching they need to pass IELTS or OET exams, allowing them to continue their careers or education in the UK. The charity also provides loans enabling clients to get the UK accreditation and training they need to return to work.
More than 90 English UK centres have supported over 700 RefuAid clients to get the IELTS or OET qualification they needed since the charity was founded in 2015.
In the year to May 2022, 495 students were supported on language programmes and 196 graduated with the qualifications they needed, almost double the number of 2021. Just over half – 57% - got IELTS while 35 per cent achieved OET.
Last year 37 went on to access requalification loans so that with their English qualification they could resume careers in areas such as medicine and civil engineering. Many have also gone on to higher education in 13 different subjects.
Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, said: "We are incredibly grateful for the support from English UK schools which provide a lifeline for those who've arrived in the UK seeking asylum to return to higher education or employment. Without this programme hundreds of people would remain locked out of employment and education due to the language barrier and requirement for qualifications such as OET or IELTS. Additionally, RefuAid clients bring an incredible perspective to the classes they join: hard-working and driven, we often hear from schools how brilliant it has been for teachers to include RefuAid students in their classes."
How to support RefuAid's language programme
There are opportunities for British Council-accredited language centres across the UK to support the project, by offering tuition-free face-to-face or online teaching. There is particular demand for pre-sessional, IELTS, OET or other exam preparation courses.
Each partner teaching centre offers between 1 and 4 student places on a rolling basis, and RefuAid provides a caseworker and financial support with travel expenses, course materials and exam fees.
RefuAid is also keen to enlist teachers who could provide online or face-to-face support for students without a nearby English UK centre. Some centres offer teachers during their contracted hours as part of corporate social responsibility programmes.
Who does RefuAid's language programme help?
In October 2021, RefuAid had 1,500 people on the waiting list for Language: A Gateway. Many of those are Syrian, Turkish, Afghans and Somalis from Sudan. We anticipate those numbers rising as more refugees from Afghanistan arrive in the UK.
The age of the refugees varies. The average age of doctors, for instance, is around 38 while students are more typically 18. The service is only for people aged 18+
The largest single group on the language programme is doctors. RefuAid's moving case histories include the story of anaesthetist Dr Wafaa Alnason, who arrived in the UK in 2017 after fleeing Syria, and later worked on the Covid frontline in an East London hospital. Another doctor, Manal, contacted RefuAid in January 2020 because she needed to sit the OET language exam to begin her medical requalification: she is now a fully-registered UK doctor training new vaccinators in Liverpool.
The full list of 2021's graduates makes extraordinary reading: they come from all over the world, and every single one is in a job or a higher-level qualification which will enable them to make a positive impact in the UK.
Download the RefuAid 2021-2022 impact report.
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