RefuAid Language Scholarship Programme set for Liverpool launch

Mohib Ullah, who is leading on the project for RefuAid told us, “We are working with one of our partner schools in Liverpool and will be starting an OET (Occupational English Test accepted by the General Medical Council as an alternative to IELTS for re-qualification) course for healthcare professionals after Easter. The course will be 6 hours a week and will initially run for 6 weeks, starting on Wednesday the 24th of April. We welcome applications from refugee/asylum seeker doctors, nurses and midwives etc. They can also email me in person at mohib@refuaid.org I will be happy to answer any questions they may have. During the course, we will pay travel expenses up to £500, and the exam fee when applicants are deemed as exam-ready by their tutors.”

Action for Refugees think that this is a brilliant initiative with potentially great benefits to candidates and the communities they will serve. We wish RefuAid every success with this important programme.

RefuAid seminar results in action for refugees

Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, at the Action for Refugees seminar at Edge Hill University.

Delegates to the RefuAid seminar held at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk campus on 20 March were enthralled by the presentations, not least by the moving testimony given by former client Naima, who told us about her former life in Libya and the role played by RefuAid in turning her life around. RefuAid co-founder, Anna Jones, explained how the organisation provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in key areas of access to language support, education and employment.

Dentist and former RefuAid client Naima shared her powerful story with us.

The audience for the seminar included academic and support staff at EHU as well as visitors from the local community. It was particularly pleasing to welcome a number of refugees and asylum seekers on campus.

Immediately following the presentations, delegates were able to engage in discussion with both the RefuAid representatives and Action for Refugees group members. Much of this discussion concerned the practical support that delegates from our refugee community wanted from RefuAid and from Edge Hill University.

Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive with many delegates taking the time to thank the presenters personally for the seminar. One email received from a delegate since the event included the following, “I’m so pleased to be at the university and thank you for the help you have given me.”

Since the event, applications for support from RefuAid have been prepared by some delegates with the help of Action for Refugees group members. Referrals have also been made to other organisations with a view to providing expert support for individuals to gain employment. Plans for future working between RefuAid and the University are being put in place. Action for Refugees is keen that the knowledge exchanged at this event will provide a basis for a fruitful partnership with RefuAid that will reflects principles of inclusivity, equity, and social justice.

Left to right: Naima and Anna (RefuAid), Malik (Syrian Cultural Centre), Kate (RefuAid), Mike (EHU)

 

Community links: supporting refugees in West Lancs

Lawrence Smye Rumsby works as a caseworker supporting refugees in Skelmersdale. Formerly a primary headteacher, he is officially ‘retired’!  Lawrence also plays a key part in ‘Skem International’, a voluntary group formed of members of the community including refugees. Action for Refugees’ links with local groups ensure we are in touch with refugees placed in our community. This is important to make sure that our work reflects their interests and needs.

Lawrence writes:

I started my caseworker contract officially on 1st August of last year, but had been volunteering in a similar role for over two years. My contract with the Council Voluntary Services (CVS) covers 4.5 hours casework with related admin, each week, but there is always more demand than this. In Skelmersdale, two regular weekly events for refugees, Wednesdays (4-6pm in the Ecumenical Centre) and on Fridays (2.30 to 4.30pm in the library) offer an opportunity for contacting me. Both buildings are very central and easily reached by all asylum seekers and refugees, which is important when most don’t have a car or the funds for public transport. Asylum seekers receive approx £35 per week from the government which has to cover everything except housing.

In the first three months I was employed, I dealt with 166 meetings, with 67 separate refugees, from Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Angola, Sudanese, Eritrean, Syria, Jamaica, Burundi, Afghanistan, Turky, Libya, Egypt, Russia & Morocco. Most of those coming to these meetings are young men, reflecting the population in Skelmersdale. I work with volunteers from the community in Skelmersdale to provide a range of support, with funding from the Red Cross to help with volunteers’ expenses. 

There are a wide range of issues raised at meetings. Refugees waiting for a decision on their leave to remain might need help with dealing with the Home Office, for example finding a solicitor, accessing benefits or responding to mail. Continue reading

Women’s Day 2019: Debate, educate and dance

Women refugees can be especially vulnerable. Marking Women’s Day, fundraising, education and dance events are taking place to support work for displaced women. 

Today, UN High Commission for Refugees are fundraising to support more projects like the ‘Women’s Committee of the Future’. Based in Turkey, where over 3 million Syrian refugees were living in 2016, the Urban Refugee Women’s Network, with UNHCR support, developed a support group for women coming together over tea. Continue reading

Upcoming RefuAid AfR Seminar 20th March 2019

Action for Refugees are delighted to welcome Anna Jones, RefuAid co-founder, to campus to speak about the innovative work of this award-winning NGO.

RefuAid was founded in 2015 in an effort to provide a practical response to forced migration for refugees and asylum-seekers living in the UK. Their primary focus is to provide solutions to the main barriers facing refugees trying to restart their life in the UK: finance, re-qualification and language tuition.

Continue reading

Update from Calais January 2019

By Mike Stoddart

This post is a follow-up from my visit to northern France in January 18.

Mike Stoddart and Jo Watt of Action for Refugees, Edge Hill University

I was able to return to Calais at the turn of the year to deliver much-needed donations from people concerned regarding the desperate situation there. My vehicle was packed with donations of warm clothes, food and toiletries in response to Care4Calais’ (C4C) #Coats4Calais appeal. My trip was kindly supported by the Global Unity Society of Edge Hill University students union.

I travelled overnight after finishing work on the Friday then caught a ferry from Dover to Calais. On arrival in Calais I drove to an industrial estate not far from the port where many of the refugees try to survive as best they can amid the industrial units and wasteland.

All afternoon volunteers from Care4Calais were busy providing valuable services to the refugees.

Verrotieres, sometimes known as the new Jungle. Image from Google maps.

Most importantly, they were distributing footwear for the refugees. These are classed by the charity as high value items because of their importance in cold, wet weather and the need to avoid medical problems that arise from having constantly cold, wet feet. It is a constant struggle to keep warm and dry as being wet and cold quickly takes its toll on the body and spirit. The volunteers were also providing hot drinks and just as importantly, taking care to engage in conversation with as many people as they could. Continue reading

Prof John Diamond supports Action for Refugees

Mike Stoddart writes….

Mike Stoddart

Action for Refugees was formed as a grouping of academics, support staff and students at Edge Hill University who felt a common need to respond to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and abroad.

The initial spark was created by a presentation given by members of staff in the Faculty of Education on their work as volunteers in the Calais Jungle. This prompted a multi-faceted response that included fund-raising, volunteering, curriculum developments and knowledge sharing and transfer events. Perhaps most importantly, the group engaged on a number of levels with refugees, asylum seekers and organisations working to support them.

We aim to promote a multi-faceted, positive, response to the refugee crisis that results in a greater understanding of and practical support for those involved.

Our intended outcomes are to:

  1. Share relevant research.
  2. Increase knowledge and understanding of the refugee crisis.
  3. Provide practical support to refugees, asylum seekers and those agencies working with them.
  4. Ensure that all teacher-training graduates from the Faculty of Education are better able to meet the learning requirements of refugees.
  5. To learn from the experiences, skills and knowledge of refugees and asylum seekers.

We are very keen to ensure that the development of the group is led by the priorities of those directly involved. It is important to us that the group is open to refugees and asylum seekers as well as representatives from the wide range of organisations working to support them.

Prof John Diamond writes…

Prof John Diamond

The work colleagues  – staff and students  – are undertaking across both the Faculty of Education and the wider University to support refugee and asylum seekers and the various NGO support groups that exist here in the North West of England are a very real and practical example of how skills, knowledge and ideas can be shared and the effect of which can be transformative.

Continue reading

From our inbox (March 15th)

There’s a lot of events, calls for papers, new research and other information related to work with refugees that we think needs to be shared as widely as possible.

At Edge Hill, a new Migration Working Group has been set up, led  by Dr Zana Vathi.

Gramnet (the network for community members and scholars working in the field of migration and refugee studies at Glasgow University) is currently promoting their film series. Maybe this kind of film event is something we should look at hosting in EHU?

Natakallam is a new online social venture, aiming to link refugees with communities globally through language teaching. You can make a connection with a refugee in camps in Syria, and hear about the refugee crisis first hand.

Care4Calais’ latest news reports the French government’s provision of food for refugees (and the problems with it).

Action for Refugees is very interested in how refugees access university – we’re keen to find out more about that experience. We’re not the only ones: a new researcher in access to HE is looking for refugee participants to talk about their experiences of accessing university. STAR, the university based student network for refugees are currently advertising for an Access to University coordinator.

For those looking for support now, the Refugee Support Network can offer advice to young people (18-25) looking to apply to university, by phone and email. Closer to home, find out about applying for EHU’s Sanctuary Scholarship scheme here.