20 March 2020
In an innovative and forward-looking partnership with Newport City Council, Coleg Gwent is proud to be involved in delivering the Reach+ project in Newport. Reach+ is a Welsh Government scheme providing one-stop support hubs in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham, aimed at helping refugees to rebuild their lives and integrate into their local communities.
The hubs act as central points for refugees to access advice and support services, in addition to being hubs for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). With regular contact with a mentor, the Reach+ hubs enable refugees to access language tuition, get help with employment, and develop local and cultural knowledge, helping them to rebuild and transform their lives through positive action.
The Newport hub is based in the Central Library, where Coleg Gwent provide ESOL assessment sessions alongside Newport City Council carrying out holistic assessments and helping refugees to overcome barriers they may face. Since opening its doors in July 2019, Newport Reach+ has seen more than 100 refugees attending and more than 80 receiving employability skills training, making a positive impact on this vulnerable community group.
Gary Handley, Faculty Director of Care and Community Studies at Coleg Gwent, oversees the project. He commented: “thanks to the excellent partnership working that this Welsh Government funded project has facilitated, as a College, we are now even more committed to work with our partners to build on the services for any individual for whom English is not their first language; particularly in respect to helping them gain long term employment in and around Newport.”
Newport is a richly diverse city that is home to people from many different cultures and backgrounds. The Reach+ hub supports and promotes inclusivity and diversity, valuing the contribution of refugees within our local community. Gary highlighted that “there remain many economic sectors with already significant staff shortages and after the completion of necessary training courses, this project will endeavour to help appropriately place refugees (and others with such language barriers) into our local industries.
“There are already a number of local employers who are working with us in these regards and can already see the positive impact on their businesses. Hopefully this publicity will help to signpost others to this forward-looking and innovative Reach+ project.”
It has been great to see the positive impact that the Reach+ project is already having in our local community and we look forward to seeing this partnership with Newport City Council continue to flourish and benefit refugees and local employers alike.
We recently met Canan, from Turkey, who is one of the Reach+ project service users and success stories.
Canan has been unable to return to Turkey as it is currently unsafe for her and her family. However, after spending time in London and finding it difficult to access help and support, Canan and her family relocated and built a new life in South Wales.
She says “my husband has found work here and my son is now in school. I’ve also joined the British Red Cross group to practice my English and I’m starting a new job in six weeks’ time.”
Find out about more Reach+ success stories at: www.reach.wales/en/success-stories