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Project celebrates a year of success for Yorkshire refugees

Project celebrates a year of success for Yorkshire refugees

News item 18 June 2018:

Press release 

Refugee Week is looking even brighter for refugees in Yorkshire thanks to support from a regional employment project.

Connecting Opportunities works with new migrants across West Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire, offering employment training, English classes, one to one support, alongside mental health support, befriending and mentoring to tackle isolation. It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, with money raised by the National Lottery, and the European Social Fund.

Over half of the people on the programme are refugees. Hailing from over 25 countries, they are keen to find work in the UK and pursue their aspirations. Refugee Munni Begum explains, “My dream is to have a job with parliament. People say this is a big job for you. And I say, No! When I came with my children here I was nobody, now I achieved something, I can help myself.”

Photo of William, a CO participant - photo courtesy of Horton HousingWilliam, a refugee from Sudan, recently secured a new job as a train station cleaner through the project. He came to West Yorkshire with his wife and two sons in 2015, through the Home Office Gateway Protection Programme. William found applying for jobs in the UK very challenging, travelling on foot to ten different companies a week. “I applied for 45 jobs to be a cleaner, but never heard anything,” he said.

Connecting Opportunities enabled William to attend English for Speakers of Other Languages [ESOL] classes and an Open University ICT course, as well as support with job applications and life skills. As a result, earlier this year William secured his first job in the UK. “I am now healthier and happier and I am thinking of the future,” he said. See William's photo on the right of this page.

Jayne Walker, William’s Connecting Opportunities Key Worker at Horton Housing, said: “I have seen William improve so much. I visited him at work and he looked so happy and content. All the staff at the company could not praise him enough. He is very grateful for the support he receives and thanks everyone for taking his problems away.”

“Refugees face huge barriers to employment in the UK, from English ability to CV writing, converting qualifications and a new application process. Connecting Opportunities equips them with the skills to tackle these issues,” said Vanessa Lendzionowski, Project Manager.

Connecting Opportunities is seeking West and North Yorkshire based employers who can offer work experience and opportunities to participants. If your organisation may be able to help, please visit

Thanks to Horton Housing for permission to use the photo.


More information

Phone  0113 378 8700

Notes to editors

1 About Connecting Opportunities

Connecting Opportunities works with new migrants to develop their skills and opportunities to find work and be part of the local community. Ten organisations that specialise in working with migrants are offering tailored support, cultural orientation, English language classes and other training across Leeds City Region. Horton Housing is a partner organisation on the project. Migration Yorkshire manages Connecting Opportunities. To find out more, visit:   

2 About the funding

The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.

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Connecting Opportunities has received up to £2.8 million of funding of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit

3 About Refugee Week

Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on the 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.






Page last updated:22/08/2019 06:41:04

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