“The work that you and your team members do is invaluable and I take away with me the importance you all place on empowering the refugees to rebuild their lives, promoting their amazing resilience and supporting their willingness to establish themselves as an integral part of the Ashford community.”
Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP on her visit to Concept Training Centre in March 2017.
Imagine having to flee your home. Imagine if your family was torn apart by conflict. It doesn’t bear thinking about, but this has been the reality for an estimated 11 million Syrians since civil war broke out in 2011. According to the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHC), the majority have sought asylum in neighbouring countries as well as within Syria itself.
Approximately one million have sought refuge in Europe, but not everyone reaches a safe haven. The harrowing image of Alan Kurdi – his young lifeless body washed ashore on the Turkish coast serves as a stark reminder of the desperate plight faced by families risking everything for the hope of a better life.
Arriving in a new country is a huge culture shock and the process of integration, particularly with the language barrier, can be lengthy and challenging. As well as the frustration of not being understood and having to grasp an understanding of UK practices, the families who reach British soil are in deep emotional turmoil and trauma.
This is where Concept Training comes in. Under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, the training centre based in Ashford, Kent, has been delivering their Language and Integration Skills Training Programme (LIST) to a number of Syrian refugees since September 2016.The aim is to help participants integrate through teaching them the skills needed in order to be able to make an active contribution, not only in the workplace, but within their families and the wider community.
Language and Integration Skills Training (LIST) Programme
The LIST Programme was piloted in Ashford from September 2016 over a four month period and then in two further locations in East and West Kent in April 2017 for three days a week over 16 weeks. It started with 14 students from around Kent – two women and 12 men and with nine men in Ashford.
Initially the intention was that two days would be spent in the classroom while the third day would be workshop based and focused on practical learning.
Currently there are men's, women's and teenager's programmes running in Kent, with other programmes and people waiting to start.
The course offers CV writing, interview skills, language practice, job search, driving test theory preparation and work experience to name but a few activities.
Each student is set targets and has an Individual Learning Plan to monitor their progress. The course remains flexible and can be tailored to meet individual need.