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Wellbeing is the way to work for Yorkshire migrants

Wellbeing is the way to work for Yorkshire migrants

News item 14 May 2018:

Yorkshire migrants and refugees are joining the UK workforce thanks to a unique project offering tailored support and counselling. In Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, the Connecting Opportunities project is celebrating ten per cent of participants entering employment, further study or work experience, many for the first time since their arrival in the UK.

Participants build new skills through training, English classes and one to one support, while mentoring and befriending tackle social isolation. Two specialist organisations, Touchstone and Solace, run therapy sessions and wellbeing support groups, which can be particularly helpful for those refugees who have had to flee their homes or who have experienced violence. “Life is very stressful for many people in the UK, with all its complexity and bureaucracy; for new migrants, it can be overwhelming, especially if they also face language and cultural barriers. Connecting Opportunities offers support to navigate all this,” notes Anne Burghgraef, Clinical Director at Solace.

Some participants, like Sidra Tanzil, report significant improvements to their mental health. “When I arrived I had no friends, didn’t know my neighbours. I was just at home doing housework. I was lonely and isolated. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I didn’t know anything about this country and I was really stressed and depressed.” After English and IT classes with Connecting Opportunities, Sidra now intends to become a teacher. “I was not able to do anything for myself before – now I think I can do everything,” she said.

“Participants are very thankful for confidential mental health support which they can access very quickly, they feel they can trust therapists,” reported Christine Ewens, a Connecting Opportunities Key Worker at Halifax Opportunities Trust. “One participant looked physically different – happier, lighter,” after receiving counselling, Christine observed. After just one session the participant said: “Look at my face and tell me what you can see – a smile!”

Connecting Opportunities will run in West and North Yorkshire until July 2019. Connecting Opportunities is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.

To find out more about the journeys that refugees and asylum seekers have been through that put pressure on their mental health, see the City of Sanctuary mental health resource pack available from





Page last updated:03/05/2019 10:43:09

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