Connecting Opportunities works with new migrants to develop their skills and opportunities to find work and be part of the local community.
Horton Housing is one of ten organisations that specialise in working with migrants that are offering tailored support, cultural orientation, English language classes and other training across West Yorkshire and part of North Yorkshire (Craven, Harrogate, Selby and York).
Connecting Opportunities provides support to migrants aged 15 and above, who:
- have permission to work in the UK but are not in work
- live in West Yorkshire or parts of North Yorkshire
- have arrived in the UK within the last 10 years and do not have British Citizenship
The project will also create new local connections, with opportunities for local people to be volunteer mentors and befrienders, and for employers to provide work placements to help people get a foothold in the job market.
Connecting Opportunities is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.
Connecting Opportunities is still running and is open to new referrals during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. All services for participants are being offered remotely. Existing participants should speak to their Keyworker to discuss specific arrangements.
Connecting Opportunities aims and objectives
Connecting Opportunities aims to support the most vulnerable and marginalised new migrants to integrate and to increase their employability and become economically active members of the wider community. We recognise that some of the skills, strengths and potential of new migrants could remain untapped if we do not take action to address some of the many barriers they can face.
Some key features of the service
- Tailored to each individual.
- English language classes for up to 12 months if required.
- Specialist mental health and wellbeing support.
- Inclusive of the perspectives and contributions of women.
- Participants help to influence the project.
What the service is aiming to achieve
- Participants will feel more confident, speak better English and have a greater understanding of the British workplace.
- Through employing new migrants and offering placement opportunities, local employers will know more about the communities living locally, will feel supported to connect with new potential employees and will promote economic well-being in some of the most economically-deprived areas of the region.
- There will be increased integration and understanding between local communities and new migrants.
For more information, visit the Connecting Opportunities website
To contact Connecting Opportunities, phone 0113 378 8700. An interpreter can be booked if needed.
To refer yourself or someone else, visit: www.migrationyorkshire.org.uk/referral
Connecting Opportunities success stories
Anas displays community spirit during the pandemic
Connecting Opportunities participant, Anas has recently joined the project and has been positively engaging in ESOL lessons, which have helped to develop his confidence.
During lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anas who has previous experience of working as a cook, has took it upon himself to share the food he prepares each day with his neighbours. Each afternoon, he leaves a pleasant delicious surprise on their doorstep.
This is a shining example of positive community spirit by overcoming diversity and uniting with others. Keep up the good work, Anas!
Good news story – Syeda
Syeda came to the UK from Pakistan under a spouse visa in early 2019 and struggled to settle in the UK due to the difference in culture and society. Syeda had no family and friends beside her husband in the UK.
She knew how to speak English but did not feel comfortable as this was not her first language. This affected Syeda’s confidence due to her change of lifestyle and she struggled with stress and anxiety. Syeda has a degree in Physiotherapy and a Masters qualification in Neuroscience.
The barriers which Syeda faced was; language and communication, finding employment, mental health barriers such as self-confidence, anxiety and stress.
Connecting Opportunities supported Syeda by helping her build her confidence and English Language skills. Syeda started to attend high-end ESOL classes to develop her English speaking skills and has come a long way. She has been mentoring students with the same degree to give her more advice and guidance on how to achieve the capacity in Physiotherapy in the UK.
Connecting Opportunities has helped Syeda to register with The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). She has now registered with this body will be able to search for jobs in her professional field as a Physiotherapist for the NHS or a private clinic.
Syeda is currently not actively seeking employment as she is pregnant however, now that her circumstances have changed, she will be in the near future.
Larissa completes two Open University short courses
Connecting Opportunities participant, Larissa recently completed two Open University short courses in one day.
Larissa completed the Citizenship and Business short courses and she hopes to develop her own business using the skills and knowledge that she has gained.
Amera and Karim complete Equality & Diversity course
Amera and Karim from the E1/E2 ESOL class completed an Introduction to Equality and Diversity course.
The course included discussions around discrimination, racism, the Equality Act 2010 and they developed their knowledge on human rights and equality in the UK.
Amera said: “I am glad that men and women have the same rights in the UK.”
Karim said: “It is good that everyone has the same rights I feel safe.”
Mostafa gains employment with Nando’s
Mostafa joined the project as an Entry level 1 learner and through hard work and dedication progressed up to the higher entry level 3 class. He has completed a number of Open University short courses and developed his job interview technique and employability skills as part of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course.
Mostafa had previously run his own catering business in Italy. During his time on the project, he completed a food hygiene course to prepare him for employment within the industry in the UK.
Mostafa said: “The course was excellent and taught me not just about how to improve my English ,but also about how to get a job in the UK and the laws and interview questions. I also learned about working in a team in class and also about different cultures and history, which I enjoyed.”
Trip to Bradford Industrial Museum
Connecting Opportunities participants enjoyed a trip to Bradford Industrial Museum in September to learn about Bradford’s wool industry. The group got the chance to see some of the old wool machines in action. One of the ladies is a keen knitter so she was really impressed with how the machines worked.
Mentoring and befriending session at Cartwright Hall
Connecting Opportunities participants enjoyed an interactive mentoring and befriending session at Cartwright Hall in August.
The group engaged in confidence building activities and learned more about Bradford and the founder of the park, Samuel Lister. They also explored the amazing array of art and historical artifacts in the art gallery.
Entry level 1 and 2 ESOL classes complete the Open University citizenship course
A group of Connecting Opportunities participants from our Entry level 1 and Entry level 2 ESOL classes recently completed the Open University citizenship course.
Participants developed their knowledge on a range of topics including: UK culture and values, human rights, key events in British history, the monarchy, the government and the law and justice system.
Feedback from a participant: “Thank you teacher for giving us this course. Now I know more about how this country works and about how to be a good citizen in the UK.”
Ismail gains volunteer work placement as a Housing Maintenance Officer
Connecting Opportunities participant, Ismail gained a volunteer work placement as a Housing Maintenance Officer with LATCH (Leeds Action to Create Homes) in July.
Ismail had over 20 years experience as an electrician, whilst he was living in Congo. However, he does not have much experience of the trade in the UK.
As well as attending English for Speakser of Other Languages classes at Horton Housing, Ismail has completed Open University short courses in engineering, citizenship and ICT, which has helped improve his employability skills.
Connecting Opportunities F.C compete in Refugee World Cup final
Connecting Opportunities participants competed in the Refugee World Cup final in Manchester on Saturday 22 June.
The team started playing football together in training sessions only four weeks before the tournament.
The team won their first game 4-0 with their star striker scoring the four goals. They lost one group game and drew against the most highly rated team in the competition.
Connected Opportunities F.C. team member, Haroon was as ‘solid as a rock’ in defence. No attackers were able to get past him. Then tragedy struck – he twisted his ankle making a last ditch attempt to prevent a goal.
Connecting Opportunities F.C. got to the final, but were unfortunately defeated. The winners of the 2019 Refugee World Cup had been playing together for five years, so this was a massive achievement for CO F.C.
Celebrating career progress of our new migrants in Connecting Opportunities
A celebration event was held at Horton Housing’s Training Centre in September to mark the achievements of our Connecting Opportunities participants.
The celebration saw project staff, volunteers and participants gather for an award ceremony, with talks and presentations on budgeting by Bradford Credit Union, wellbeing by Touchstone and information about the Befriending/ Mentoring service. There was also a raffle, a tea party and some dancing.
Before joining Connecting Opportunities, participants faced barriers when they arrived in the UK, such as low or no English language ability. This had stopped them from securing employment and feeling part of their local community.
A participant said: “I’m very happy to get help from Connecting Opportunities at Horton Housing. My Key Worker helps me when I have appointments, she will go with me. She helped me with my bills – I was confused before her help. My goal is now to become an electrician – to do this my Key Worker supported me to do English and Maths and I am going to be doing an Electrical Installation Level 1 course. This will mean that I can do a placement PAT testing with a local charity while I study. Back in Sudan I was an electrician with 10 years’ experience.”
Jayne Walker, Connecting Opportunities Manager at Horton Housing, said: “We held the event to celebrate the fantastic achievements and progress of the people that we support on Connecting Opportunities. Their hard work and commitment on the project is helping them to overcome these barriers and fully embrace their new life in the UK.”
Yuma would like to become a social worker one day – and after learning to speak English in just nine months, it is a realistic ambition.
She had come to England from Spain with very little English and at first spent a lot of time at home as she lacked confidence.
But getting involved in the Connecting Opportunities project run at Horton Housing’s training centre opened up a whole new world to her.
Read more about Yuma’s experience here
We treated three participants to a Bradford City football match in April 2018, in recognition of their hard work, dedication and progress on the Connecting Opportunities project.
The tickets had been provided by Provident and the Bantams Community Scheme
For William, Ezeldin and Moussa this was the first live game they had been to since arriving in the UK. As can be expected, they were looking forward to experiencing a bit of British football culture and to see whether the game lived up to their expectations. Ezeldin was a regular at the football back in his native South Sudan whilst Moussa is an avid Manchester United supporter. Having never got the chance to see them play live, he used to pay £1 to watch them on the TV with his friends back in Burundi. For William, his love of football has passed down to his sons with his eldest now playing for Queensbury.
Since joining Connecting Opportunities William has begun work as a cleaner and Ezeldin has become a regular volunteer at Horton Housing Training Centre, running a job club twice a week for Arabic speakers. Despite only coming to the UK in November and joining the project a couple of months ago, Moussa has settled in quickly to his ESOL classes.
William, a refugee from Sudan, came to the UK in 2015 with his wife and two sons through the Home Office’s Gateway Protection Programme, which resettles refugees in the UK.
He was struggling to adapt to living in the UK and had been unable to find employment, before he joined the Connecting Opportunities project. With the support and training offered by the project, he has been able to get a job as a cleaner at a local railway station.
Read more about William’s experience on the Connecting Opportunities programme here