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English UK and RefuAid create formal partnership

Published Lynne on Wednesday, October 6, 2021

English UK and RefuAid create formal partnership

More refugees should get access to the language support they need to work or study in the UK as a result of a partnership between English UK and RefuAid. 

Refugee support charity RefuAid works solely with English UK members to ensure its clients get the language teaching they need to pass IELTS or OET exams, enabling them to register existing qualifications in the UK or take undergraduate or masters’ courses.  

An association between both organisations began in 2017 when RefuAid became the pathfinder charity for English UK’s Eddie Byers Fund, which aims to transform lives through English language learning. That is now becoming a renewed partnership, with English UK working to support RefuAid and encourage member centres to offer tuition if possible.  

Jodie Gray, chief executive of English UK, said: “I’m blown away by the altruism and generosity of our members. In an industry that was hit harder than most by the pandemic, 75 continued to offer free tuition to RefuAid clients.  

“As a result, an amazing 606 refugees have been able to get the certification they needed to either get their professional qualifications recognised in the UK or get into higher education. The largest single group were doctors, who have been able to bring their skills into the NHS during the pandemic.  

“But there are still 1,500 people on the waiting list for RefuAid’s language programme and all of them can play their part in the UK once they’ve got those English skills and qualifications. We are developing our partnership to support and encourage the development of the language programme and we will be promoting RefuAid’s work more widely to help that effort.”  

Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support from English UK schools which provides 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.”

RefuAid’s moving case histories tell the stories of some, like anaesthetist Dr Wafaa Alnason who arrived here in 2017 after fleeing Syria and has been working 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.   

RefuAid has been working with individual English UK members to provide language support since it was founded in 2015. Its Language: A Gateway programme offers individuals up to 32 hours a week of structured English language support as well as help with exams and qualifications.  

The programme is delivered through partnerships with British Council accredited English language teaching centres. The teaching centres offer free tuition and RefuAid provides caseworker and financial support with travel expenses, course materials and exam fees. There are opportunities to get involved everywhere in the UK, either through face-to-face or online teaching, and particularly for centres offering pre-sessional, IELTS, OET or other exam preparation courses.  

further details about becoming a RefuAid partner  



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