A NEW life in foreign country can often not live up to the dream.
There are many reasons why people decide to move from their home country – not just poverty and war but other challenges that prompt hundreds of individuals to seek an alternative way of life.
At the last count, 35,000 refugees had chosen the West Midlands – the multi-cultural region at the heart of the United Kingdom - to settle.
Each individual has different needs and on one of the Business in the Community’s Seeing is Believing tour, encouraged by the Prince of Wales, business people were shown how positive action can make the difference.
Gail Walters, Programme Manager at Birmingham-based Trellis, part of the Employability Forum, believes meeting refugees face-to-face can be a real eye-opener.
“We can do a lot of work to get people work ready but we need individual employers to then be willing to take them on. If this doesn’t happen we are on a hiding to nothing,” said Gail, who coordinates the pilot scheme that aims ‘to transform the experience of refugee jobseekers in Birmingham’.
“This Prince’s Seeing is Believing tour is a chance for people to get information direct from refugees and to show people how it is different from the stereotypes. People can meet refugees and ask questions they are sometimes scared to ask because it is not politically correct.
“We want to dispel the myth and show people what refugees can offer.”
The tour included a visit to the Refugee Action Centre in Wardlow.
Gail stressed not all were looking for work and some may have chosen to move elsewhere with their families or friends.
“The point is that each of these have different skills and needs and it is likely that these could be put to good use given the right opportunities,” said Gail.
She hopes that after the tour some employers will be able to take the next step and find time to get involved with the work of the project that runs until 2008. The initiative is a joint partnership between Birmingham City Council, the Employability Forum, JobCentre Plus, Learning & Skills Council, Refugee Employment, Training and Advocacy Forum, RETAF and West Midlands Local Government Consortium.
Gail said: “There are some straightforward steps that can be taken that will really help refugees. No-one is asking for special treatment for refugees only that the experience is improved for them.”
Opportunities for employers include mentoring a refugee, helping with interview techniques and offering job placements.
Gail said: “We want to open up the horizons for people and show them what the advantages can be for helping refuges find work.”
To find out more see the website at www.employablityforum.co.uk.