A university in East Kilbride has supported a group of asylum seekers after they were contacted to say they could not find jobs and had little hope.
The nine students, all fleeing Somalia and staying in a hotel in East Kilbride, were looking for training or study opportunities when South Lanarkshire College (SLC) stepped in to offer support.
University teacher Mark Sheridan was contacted by one of the asylum seekers through a contact at the local mosque in February to say they and others could not work and were waiting for visas.
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They have little English skills and were eager to learn in order to have the best chance of employment when eligible.
The college currently offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, although classes usually start in August and January.
As there were nine asylum seekers looking to start learning English, the college quickly looked into the situation and set up an ESOL class for the students, to ensure they were supported and not did not find themselves without any study options.
Students started their course on March 16 and will be supported with a 12-week study course learning basic National English 2 and 3.
They can then move on to higher level ESOL study in August, with the option of moving on to other courses within the college afterwards.
Mark Sheridan, ESOL lecturer, told Lanarkshire Live: “We have been contacted by one of the asylum seekers to say there are a number of people staying at a local hotel who cannot work due to their asylum status.
“Being not allowed to work, they have little to do all day, but want to go into education and start studying in English.
“That’s where I met with some of the asylum seekers to see how we could help them.
“Following discussions with my program manager, we agreed that we could offer a course specifically for this group of people, to help them gain the skills and confidence to improve their lives here in Scotland.”
One of the students, Haashim, has ambitions to go to college to study architecture.
He told us: “I have been living in Scotland for three months with other asylum seekers.
“We looked for ways to study and gain skills to further our education and find employment. It was great that SLC could support me and my friends to learn English.
“The college has been very supportive and I have really enjoyed my time at university so far. I have also loved living in Scotland – everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.
“I look forward to continuing the course and eventually progressing to study at university.”
Karen Phillips, acting deputy director of the business faculty, called it “brilliant” that the college can support people in this way.
She added: “These students were fleeing a dangerous situation in their home country and we are happy to be able to help them rebuild their lives through the power of education.”
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