A new one-stop service providing support for refugees across Wales has been launched today, [Thursday 20 June] as part of Refugee Week.
The ReStart: Refugee Integration project was unveiled at Cardiff and Vale College, by Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt and the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams.
The dedicated drop-in services will be available from hubs within the four Home Office refugee dispersal areas in Wales – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.
The hubs, called REACH+, will be the new bases for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and will act as a central point for refugees to access a wider pool of advice and support via the ReStart project.
The hubs will provide support to more than 520 people, helping them to integrate into Welsh life; to access language tuition; help with employment support and to further their local and cultural knowledge.
A mentor will maintain regular contact with everyone accessing services at the project.
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt said:
“Refugee Week is a powerful opportunity to show Wales is a nation of sanctuary for people seeking safety.
“ReStart will deliver an ambitious but integrated support programme for refugees who have made Wales their home.
“It’s extremely important we help people take up employment and education opportunities – this not only benefits people and their families but our wider society and economy.”
Cardiff and Vale College will be leading the roll-out of ReStart, following the success of the first REACH provision, which was launched in 2017.
MaryAnn Hale, head of REACH+ Wales, said:
"Cardiff and Vale College are delighted to be leading on this valuable project.
“The impact in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, through REACH, is evident with the eradication of ESOL waiting lists and duplicate applications. Learners have benefited hugely from having a central assessment hub and database for ESOL provision which has supported progression and pathway opportunities.
“It is a privilege to be rolling this service out across Wales and to be offering more dedicated, specialist support to refugees with targeted support helping their integration into society."
The launch event also coincides with Adult Learners’ Week.
Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said:
“Someone’s ability to benefit from education should not be determined by their personal circumstances. Education is one of the biggest drivers of social integration and mobility and breaking down barriers for people to access further or higher education is one of my top priorities.
“These drop-in hubs will support access to the wide range of opportunities available – from language tuition to studying at university – which is vital when settling in a new country and making that place your home.”
The £2m project is financed by £1.5m from the UK Responsible Authority’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and £500,000 match funding from the Welsh Government.