Eddie Byers Scholarship pilot project announced
27 September 2017

A charity which supports refugees to rebuild their lives in the UK by helping them get English qualifications for work and education is the first recipient of the Eddie Byers Scholarship fund.

RefuAid's award will help it support three or four refugees to improve their English so that they can live independently in the UK.

The Scholarships are in memory of late chief executive Eddie Byers, and have been funded by donations from friends, family and colleagues. Eddie's wife Sam said: "Seeing the applications arrive and how they will change people's lives is amazing.

I can't tell you how much it means to me."

The charity, which has been working with English UK members since it was founded in 2015, has helped to develop the Scholarships and so is acting as pathfinder for organisations who will be chosen this summer to receive the first awards.

Hessy Elliott, language programmes manager for RefuAid, said: "It isn't an overstatement to say this will change people's lives: they've lost homes and families, they're starting from scratch in a country unknown to them so to get the qualifications which will open the door to education and meaningful employment is fantastic."

The charity's co-founder Anna Jones said: "This award will help us to change people's lives – there's so much negative rhetoric about refugees and getting these English qualifications helps people be independent, for a relatively small amount of money."

RefuAid is supporting refugees from countries including Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan who are often highly educated in their own countries but need Ielts or other qualifications to either continue their career in the UK, or get a university place. Current students include a neurosurgeon and a young woman whose university place depends on her language level.

RefuAid works closely with six English UK members in London and Cambridge, who provide free teaching for refugees referred by the charity, and is keen to work with more centres which are able to provide free student places. RefuAid supports the refugees by matching them with centres, paying for exams and textbooks and meeting transport costs, as well as helping with other aspects of life in the UK.

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