Lanarkshire college supports asylum seekers in their bid to learn English

An East Kilbride college has been supporting a group of asylum seekers after they got in contact to say they couldn’t get a job and were left with little hope.

The nine students, all fleeing from Somalia who have been housed in a hotel in East Kilbride, were looking for opportunities to train or study when South Lanarkshire College (SLC) stepped in to offer support.

College lecturer, Mark Sheridan, was contacted by one of the asylum seekers through a contact at the local Mosque in February to say that they and others couldn’t work and were awaiting Visas.

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They have little English skills and are eager to learn so they have the best possible chance of employment when eligible.

The college currently offers courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages ​​(ESOL), although courses usually start in August and January.

As there were nine asylum seekers looking to start learning English the college quickly reviewed the situation and created an ESOL class for the students, to ensure they were supported and weren’t left without any options for study.

The students started their course on the March 16 and will be supported through a 12-week study course learning basic National 2 and 3 English.

The Somalian asylum seekers were keen to learn English

They can then progress onto Higher level ESOL study in August, with the option to then progress to other courses within the college.

Mark Sheridan, ESOL lecturer, told Lanarkshire Live : “We were contacted by one of the asylum seekers to say there were a number of people staying in a local hotel who were unable to work due to the status of their asylum.

“Not being allowed to work, they have little to do all day but are keen to get into education and begin studying in English.

“This is where I met with some of the asylum seekers to establish how we might help.

“Following discussions with my curriculum manager we agreed that we could offer a class specifically for this group of people, to help them gain the skills and confidence to make a better life here in Scotland.”

One of the students, Haashim, has ambitions to progress on to university to study architecture.

He told us: “I have been living in Scotland for the past three months with some other asylum seekers.

“We have been looking for ways to study and gain skills for further study and employment. It was great that SLC could support myself and my friends to learn English.

“The college have been very supportive and I have really enjoyed my time studying at the college so far. I have also loved living in Scotland – everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.

“I look forward to continuing with the course and eventually progressing to study at university.”

Karen Phillips, interim associate principal for the faculty of businesses called it “brilliant” that the college can support people in this way.

She added: “These students were fleeing an unsafe situations in their home counties and we are pleased to be able to support them to rebuild their lives through the power of education.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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