I was contacted by one of the asylum seekers through a contact at the local Mosque in February to say that there were asylum seekers living in the local area who couldn’t work and were awaiting Visa’s. They have little English skills and were 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 usually courses 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 16 March and will be supported through a 12-week study course learning basic National 2 and 3 English. They can then progress onto Higher level ESOL study in August, with the option to then progress to other courses within the college.
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, who has ambitions to progress on to university to study architecture, added: “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 South Lanarkshire College 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 said: “It’s brilliant that we can support people in this way. 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. I would encourage anyone in a similar position, or know of anyone who is, to contact the college. We will do our best to support them.”
To find out more about ESOL courses at South Lanarkshire College visit: www.slc.ac.uk.
Mark Sheridan, ESOL lecturer, South Lanarkshire College