We provide training, advocacy, counselling, advice, guidance, signposting and information to refugees and asylum seekers and BME communities to enable them to effectively integrate into society and to access services and opportunities
Advice, Information and Guidance:
- We provide advice on a range of issues including welfare rights, debt, health, benefits, housing, employment, consumer issues, education, discrimination, immigration and the Law.
- We provide information and awareness raising about rights, entitlements and the availability of legal representation.
- We provide advice, guidance and counselling, information and practical help so that our service users can access the best services and opportunities.
ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
People can become isolated in the community for a wide variety of reasons, including language. Newcomers to this country from abroad often find it difficult to integrate into the local community because of poor English language skills. This can lead to isolation, difficulty in finding employment and very real social problems, making even a simple trip to the shops quite stressful.
Many refugees and Black and Minority Ethnic people in the UK find that poor literacy skills are a barrier to progression in both education and employment.
Lack of ability in the English language is consistently identified as a major barrier to integration and employment. There is also a widespread perception amongst refugees and BME communities that the type of ESOL on offer was not always appropriate for their needs.
Community organisations acknowledge that the central barrier to integration and employment faced by many refugees and asylum seekers was the ability to communicate in English. The majority of our members are refugees or asylum seekers for whom language is one of the main barriers to accessing employment. By taking ESOL classes, refugees or asylum seekers are able to improve their access to services, start to look for work or to volunteer and become more integrated into society.
ESOL provision plays a vital role in improving the life chances of people for whom English is not their first language: for example, by facilitating access to services, further training or work, and helping them to support their families, particularly their children’s schooling. Recognition of the importance of ESOL is reflected at the UK policy level, by linking English language training to national strategies for integration and community cohesion. However, it is widely recognised that the supply of ESOL provision is generally insufficient to meet demand and that many ESOL courses are over-subscribed, particularly in London.
Most new arrivals and BME communities may already have had some spoken English but they had limited opportunities to practise it at home or in social situations.
The educational disadvantage also impacts on the children; many of the women are single parents trying to bring up children who are in mainstream education; but as the parent does not speak English, the children have no one to help them with their homework or answer questions about their classes.
Our class environment and the structure of the lessons enabled participants to practise their English and to boost their confidence as a result. Our course content is learner-centred, with a work-focused ESOL curriculum and a range of practical activities designed to improve the participants’ employability skills and support them into employment.
Such improved communication skills are of course not only beneficial in social situations but also help to develop the participants’ employability, for example in their ability to market their skills to an employer.
The lessons have a real practical value by helping with basic reading and writing skills. Students report that they feel less isolated and integrate more easily into their local community and we actively encourage them to volunteer as part of this process. Our tutors are qualified and experienced in delivering ESOL and other essential functional skills and qualifications.
We hold classes, workshops and community events for adults whose first language is not English. Rather than have our learners study in a typical classroom environment, we deliver learning in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The delivery of ESOL is designed to develop all areas with an emphasis on learning practical language skills that are necessary at home, in the community and in employment.
Our courses focus on:
- Improving reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in English in the familiar contexts of everyday life, work and study
- Improving the knowledge required to understand and use straightforward English language, as appropriate to purpose, audience and context
- Improving speaking, listening, reading and writing as well as knowledge of living and working in the UK.
Information, Advice & Guidance
We keep our learners informed about the various community networks and provide signposting to other agencies and services.
Employability Skills and ESOL for Work
The main purpose of this service is to
- Increase confidence and skills acquisition, create better opportunities for sustainable employment and better life outcomes for individuals and families
- Provide training and skills development to promote social and economic inclusion in local employment opportunities thus reducing inequality and narrowing the poverty gap
- Organise work placements and opportunities in line with interests, skills and aspirations to boost experience, confidence and readiness for work
- Provide employment support and aftercare including on-going one-to-one support, job brokerage, career development, IAG and referral to further training or new programmes to consolidate skills and increase opportunities
- Improve communication skills for the unemployed, BME communities, refugees and new arrivals
- Provide relevant training and skills so that beneficiaries increase their employability and adaptability to enable them actively contribute to the local economy.
- Contribute to increasing levels of employability by improving beneficiaries’ skills necessary to access the labour market
- Enable unemployed beneficiaries to identify and gain access to new opportunities to become more economically independent by moving into paid employment
- Help to tackle the barriers that unemployed refugees and other ethnic minority groups face in participating in learning, business and the labour market.
Support to accessing employment
- To increase the opportunities available to refugees and black and minority ethnic communities to take part in work, in learning, and in society more generally
- To link with employers who are willing to provide work experience and job opportunities and vocational programmes
- To organise training services for refugees and black and ethnic minority communities which offers courses that will help them to get back into the work force
- To support refugees, immigrants and minority communities’ access to employment opportunities
- To provide advice to clients on ways to access employment, education and training
- To increase the awareness of refugees and immigrants on available employment and related training opportunities
- To advocate against the barriers to employment faced by ethnic minority groups, refugees and immigrants.
Our services include:
- Providing general help to unemployed people with finding work; career advice and guidance and assistance in accessing education and vocational training
- Providing information on jobs available, career choices, and vocational training and education opportunities
- Conducting one-to-one training, support and advice for unemployed people in telephone skills, job search strategies, CV writing, interview skills/practices, confidence and motivation-building, completing job application forms and writing related covering letters
- Providing information, advice and guidance to overcome barriers to employment, including housing, debt advice, child-care, finance, health care, etc.
- Sign-posting beneficiaries onto relevant skills training including literacy, numeracy and ICT, where relevant, leading to Skills for Life qualifications
- Providing practical employability support such as CV preparation, assistance with job applications, interview techniques and interventions to support the transition into employment
- Assisting participants in job searches, identifying and accessing suitable vacancies and work placement opportunities
- Support job application and interview preparation to ensure that clients have the best possible chance of accessing employment
- Liaising with local employers to match prepared participants with emerging job opportunities/employers’ needs
- Providing refugees and other immigrants with opportunities to recognise and transfer their skills and qualifications, enabling them to better integrate into the UK labour market and to generally increase employability.
Social Action Research
Social action research programme aims:
- To develop local knowledge about the social needs of black and minority ethnic communities and refugees in conjunction with local partner agencies
- To identify ways for the effective social integration of refugees and minority ethnic communities.
To do this, the programme:
- Researches into the nature of the diverse advice needs, reasons of underachievement of ethnic minority school children, integration needs and constraints, etc.
- Undertakes surveys to ensure the voices of black and minority ethnic residents not involved in voluntary groups are heard
- Carries out a survey on perceptions, barriers and constraints of asylum seekers, refugees and black and ethnic minority people with regard to their access to mainstream services
- Develops community services proposals to meet the needs of disadvantaged refugees and BME people.
We aim to tackle the educational under-achievement of refugee and minority ethnic school children by:
- Working with parents to support the educational attainment of their children
- Supporting BME youth in their educational progress (including homework guidance, tutoring, etc.)
- Providing information about further education and vocational training opportunities
- Providing mentoring for young people at risk to raise their level of educational attainment
- Helping young people access specialist counselling services and study support and counselling
- Providing revision sessions, supplementary teaching support, homework classes and workshops after school and Saturdays
- Providing basic skills training (English, Maths and Science)
- Identifying, referring, and engaging children and young people most at risk of offending, anti-social behaviour and social and educational exclusion
- Helping young people access community sports, arts, learning and ICT activities
- Providing liaison, mediation and advocacy between schools, pupils and their family and work to improve these relationships
- Facilitating access to services for children who are cared for or are disabled
- Contributing to the engagement of young people in an individual, skills-based curriculum that can support their re-engagement back into full-time education.
Our service focuses on school children who lack confidence and motivation, have learning disabilities, struggle with English, Maths and Science, who are not responding to schools rules, not communicating with teachers, are preparing SATS and GSCE, are affected by cultural barriers or trauma, who are unaccompanied or have been (or are about to be) excluded from school.
Our education services aim to:
- Promote cultural diversity, address racism and racial harassment at schools
- Help refugees, black and minority ethnic students achieve their full potential by overcoming barriers to learning both inside and outside school
- Identify children outside the education system, support them and, where appropriate, to reintegrate them
- Prevent children from disengaging with the education system
- Research and disseminate examples of good practice
- Reduce youth crime and the fear of crime
- Increase young people’s confidence to engage in activities relevant to their interests
- Improve the educational outcomes for young people at high risk of social exclusion and promote reintegration into mainstream education
- Improve the relationship between families, schools/providers and young people by working directly with them
- Contribute to the engagement of young people in an individual, skills-based curriculum.
- Promote access to services for children who are looked after, are disabled, or are from a black or minority ethnic cultural backgrounds
- Provide advice and signposting for parents/carers/the community and assist in accessing multi-agency services and support.
To do this the programme will provide the following services:
- Providing advice and information to young people to inspire, motivate, develop, persuade and support them to remain at school
- Facilitate advice and information to parents of children with educational needs (e.g. school attendance and learning difficulties)
- Free supplementary classes in English, Mathematics and the Sciences
- Support for homework and revision sessions
- Saturday and after-school supplementary classes
- Mentoring for young people to raise their educational attainment
- Parent club meetings to discuss issues and share ideas, information and experiences about services available for children and young people
- One-to-one advice for young people on fulfilling their potential and career development
- One-to-one advice for young people at risk of offending, involved in anti-social behaviour or who are socially and educationally excluded
- Advice and signposting for parents or carers and assistance in accessing multi-agency services and support
- Peer support education and befriending services for ethnic minority youths.
Engaging and supporting young people:
By providing tailored support to young people, Diversity Living Services will help to ensure that young people receive the necessary advice and support to make a smooth transition to adulthood. For many young people, especially those who are from refugee and BME communities, AFSI will be an important source of support. Youth services will be developed with a specific focus on increasing community cohesion, engaging and supporting young people to enable them to have their voices heard.
Our key objectives in supporting Children and Young People are:
- Provide opportunities for young people to engage and interact with other young people from different backgrounds
- Organise activities that improve support to alienated young people thereby reducing the disaffection amongst some youths
- Providing appropriate ‘things to do’ for young people
- Organising cultural events which open up children and young people’s contacts across communities
- Fostering inter-cultural contact between young people
- Enable children and young people to make a positive contribution to society, e.g. as volunteers
- Encourage the inclusion and participation of children and young people in decision-making in their community, e.g. engaging in local democracy, school councils and youth forums.
- Ensure young people have access to advice regarding their rights
- Organising activities via discussions, arts-based activities, residential activities, outdoor education and sports activities.
Carers and Parents’ club
The club meets once every six weeks to discuss issues and share information, experiences and news about the support and services available for young people and children including:
- Increasing attendance at school, educational attainment and inclusion
- Enhancing the quality of life for young people
- Reducing youth crime and the fear of crime
- Reintegration into mainstream education after school exclusion
- Increasing young people’s confidence to engage in activities relevant to their interests.
- Participation in the education of their children
- Raising educational standards and achievements
- Employment, childcare and parenting problems
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Anti-social behaviour
- Safe sexual health
- Bullying and discrimination problems
- Fundraising for children and young people’s activities
- Valuable contacts and resources
- Helping to obtain valuable work experience
- Improving the relationship between families, schools/providers and young people
- Accessing services for children who are cared for or are disabled.