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Supporting refugees in South Wales

USW has worked with the Welsh Refugee Council to improve access to free, quality English classes for forced migrants in the area.

With waiting lists that could be up to a year long, the University worked with the Welsh Refugee Council to establish a programme of classes that were delivered by students on the University’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses, alongside voluntary qualified language teachers.

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  • These classes have helped to transform the lives of hundreds of people, providing linguistic, emotional and psychological support.
  • This joint venture, which was named Community Project of the Year by the Inspire Adult Learning Awards, now delivers eight classes a week to more than 100 people, and during term time, classes are delivered by final year TESOL students, who use the project to gain practical teaching experience.
  • Dr Chick has since been appointed as USW’s first Refugee Champion, a position created so that staff across the organisation can have a single point of contact for all questions regarding interactions with students and applicants who are refugees.
  • In March 2020, USW became only the second HE institution in Wales to be awarded University of Sanctuary status. This recognises USW’s commitment to creating a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary within, and beyond, its campuses.

Dr Mike Chick: “The decision to approach the Welsh Refugee Council with the idea to collaborate on providing language classes has led to the most gratifying and satisfying times of my career. We have helped so many asylum seekers during their first weeks in Wales, many of whom have escaped war and persecution and are now desperate to contribute to a society that is offering them safety from harm.”

For more information, visit the USW website.