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, through the Big Lottery Fund.
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
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