Improving young refugees’ educational outcomes through our partnership with the Positive Youth Foundation

by Jan 29, 2024Awareness Raising, Campaigning, News, News & events, Refugee support, Youth engagement

At the City & Guilds Foundation we’re passionate about advocating for, and supporting, people who face barriers to accessing skills development. Two years ago, we looked at supporting refugees as a beneficiary group – and have supported a number of different grass root charities in the UK who are making a quantifiable impact on many lives within refugee and migrant communities.

One such organisation that we are proud to support is the Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) based in Coventry. Initially established in 2011 as a youth charity to support young people in the city, in 2015 PYF created its Involved Programme to support the integration of newly arrived refugee and asylum seeking young people.

As PYF’s Programme Manager Obayed Hussain explains:

‘Schools weren’t ready for the influx of young people arriving in the area. Not all schools had trained teachers to support in teaching English as an additional language and so we developed a programme initially supporting 8-15 year olds. On the back of this success, and seeing a need in older refugees who were at risk of poor educational outcomes, we developed the College Boost programme for 16-25 year olds. We focus on providing support around young people’s mental health and wellbeing and the many challenges they face in education.’

The funding provided by us at the City & Guilds Foundation has allowed PYF to support 59 young people on the 12-month College Boost programme to-date. As well as developing language skills and supporting with gaining qualifications and skills, the programme is also contributing to young people making friends and helping them to integrate into society.

Programme participant, Abdirahman Saleebaan agrees:

‘I was struggling to speak with other people and I was a shy person. But now I feel confident to speak to other people.’

Due to the success of the partnership, PYF has been able to recruit a teacher with a background of teaching English as a Second Language (ESOL) to work as a staff member and youth worker, and this has led to huge improvements in students’ reading, writing, and spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) abilities.

Alongside the ESOL activity, young people are provided with additional support in applying for college places, interview preparation, job hunting and CV writing skills. They have also been given the opportunity to attend trips and a small number were invited to attend the University of Oxford to participate in a research project exploring the challenges facing newly arrived young people.

College Boost participant Hawraa Sadoun is clear about her own career ambition of becoming a physicist:

‘Joining PYF they really encourage us and support us with our dreams so it really helped me to know how to reach my goal and how to be a physicist.’

PYF even organised a Graduation Ceremony for learners on completion of their programme to give the young people and their families the opportunity to recognise their hard work and celebrate their achievements.

From the 59 young people who have undertaken the programme, 12 are now in jobs and many of the other learners have gone on to attend local colleges. Six learners are also volunteering for PYF on other programmes.

Not one for resting on their laurels though, PYF are busy planning the next programme launch for early 2024 and through additional funding from the Foundation they are looking to develop a City & Guilds accredited training and development programme to upskill and train professionals on how to support refugee and migrant young people in and out of education.

As Sana Afzil, Function Skills Officer and ESOL teacher at the charity clearly articulates, it’s not just the programme attendees who have learnt something from the programme:

‘I may have been the teacher, however I’ve also learned so much from our young people. The three things that I’ve learnt are to be hard working, to never give up and to be patient.’

You can watch the College Boost Graduation Ceremony:

And, read more about Positive Youth Foundation’s inspirational work:

We are so proud to be supporting Positive Youth Foundation and look forward to seeing the impact that the programme will continue to have on their direct and indirect beneficiaries.

Want to be kept up to date?

Sign up to City & Guilds Foundation email alerts and newsletter

Previous posts

What we learned about making applications more accessible – for refugee women and for all

Access to training and learning opportunities is one of the barriers for refugee women with experience of seeking safety to start or progress their professional lives in the UK. This includes financial barriers, as well as other barriers related to accessing...

Bookings now open for City and Guilds of London Art School Spring and Summer Short Courses 2024!

The City and Guilds of London Art School are delighted to announce the launch of their Spring/Summer 2024 Short Courses. A perfect last-minute gift for yourself or someone you love! Next term, they will be extending their pilot programme of Evening Courses with Spring...

Celebrating the very best training and development programmes in the UK and Ireland

Last week, 53 recipients from the UK and Ireland were warmly welcomed to St James’s Palace, in London, to receive their Princess Royal Training Award from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

Human-Centered Leadership: Nurturing Creativity, Connection, and Collaboration

We attended Anthropy this month. The second edition of a gathering like no other, set in the beautiful Eden Project in Cornwall to bring together leading voices to imagine a better world. It’s no surprise that leadership was at the centre of conversations as a tool...

Big Idea Fund: Five new projects awarded funding to unlock potential and support rehabilitation

Back in June we announced that we were inviting expressions of interest for the second round of our Big Idea Fund. The £1m Big Idea Fund was established in 2019 as the first major initiative of our Foundation, to support prisoners with upskilling to aid their...

Neurodiversity Index 2024

Did you know that in the workplace, 40% of neurodivergent employees say they are impacted most days in the workplace by their condition and only 32% of employees felt that they can disclose their neurodivergent condition? These are some of the key findings from our...

Empowering women to enter the construction industry

According to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) (2023), women represent only 15% of the construction workforce. At the same time, the construction industry is facing a skills shortage suggesting that this crucial source of talent is being under-utilised....

Making a real difference, and genuinely changing lives

I have always known that City & Guilds is a force for good – helping millions of people to access skills. And it’s no surprise really that for nearly 150 years our purpose has remained the same – to help people, organisations and economies to develop their skills...

Foundation & Friends Monthly Round-up: September 2023

As the final days of Summer gently give way to the crisp embrace of autumn here in the UK, we find ourselves at the threshold of another monthly roundup. We have loads of exciting events and opportunities lined up, so let’s dive right In.

Podcast episodes

Share This