Good news stories

A big thank you to our participants, volunteers and staff for sharing your experiences!

The sky’s the limit

Eric, Bradford

Supported by: The Children’s Society and Horton Housing

Eric, 21, came to the UK with his family as a refugee from the Congo in 2016. Keen to work in aviation, he began studying Travel and Tourism and later joined Connecting Opportunities [CO] “to find a job and to go to further education.”

At first Eric felt stuck: “When you go to college for 7 hours a week and you don’t have a job, you can’t do anything but you can join the gangs. If I hadn’t joined CO I think I would be nothing, just staying home.”

Eric’s father and brother also joined the project. The family received help with navigating UK systems and resolving an eviction, employment support, ESOL classes and befriending. Eric and his brother now work part-time, at a local shop and a warehouse, while they continue their education.

Eric has travelled by plane only once, during his journey to the UK, yet he aims to become a pilot. Thanks to CO, he explained, “I can say ‘I’m from Bradford’ now. I can say I’m home… I am confident to do everything that I want and I can achieve my goals.”

Sharing laughter and language


Supported by: Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network and PATH Yorkshire

Maria arrived in Leeds from Mexico in 2017, when her husband began a PhD. “Everything was new, new culture, new language,” she remembered. A former Science teacher, Maria was struggling to find work and felt isolated.

After joining Connecting Opportunities, she was matched with volunteer befriender Linda. They quickly found common ground, from a love of the outdoors to making piñatas, while exploring local galleries, parks and markets.

Their friendship has made a huge difference to Maria. “I’m more confident and I tell myself, ‘Maria, you can speak English’. I can find friends, I can speak English. My life has changed,” she said. Linda too, has benefited: “It’s so enriching to have a friend from a different culture, to learn how we’re different in so many ways but we’re so much alike. I love every minute.”

Confidence through counselling


* Name changed on request

Supported by: Touchstone and Solace

Sara struggled to build a new life in Yorkshire, after arriving from Pakistan with her children in 2006. “I was very isolated,” she said. “I don’t have any relatives, or many friends.” Severe mental health problems prevented her from working. “I thought my life was finished, I didn’t want to live.”

After joining Connecting Opportunities Sara’s life began to change. “Connecting Opportunities became sunshine for me. Slowly, I felt my mind opening,” she said. “I wanted to go out, I wanted to talk with people.”

Free counselling and one-to-one support enabled her to begin a college course in hairdressing, and recently Sara has been approaching local salons for a job or placement. “I can see, slowly, slowly, I have lots of options, the way is opening for me. Now I’ve started trusting myself,” she said.

See also



Connecting Opportunities, National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund logos 

Connecting Opportunities is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.



Page last updated: 31/05/2020 11:45:40

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