When you made plans to welcome a refugee family to the UK, you’ll have thought through how you could assist adults to access volunteer and employment opportunities. You might already have plans on how you will support adults in writing their CV, or preparing for interviews.
In pre-Covid times, it could be a challenge to manage the expectations of newcomers in terms of employment and how possible it was to find employment whether in their previous field or in a new one. Unfortunately, arriving or resettling to the UK post-Covid may make this possibility even more remote. Work with the family member to help them navigate this disappointment and plan what you can together.
- Do not shy away from talking about the current issues facing job seekers in the UK. Whilst the family member may not have a comparison to how things were previously, a lack of employment opportunity is affecting many people. Look at job vacancies with the family you are supporting using website such as indeed.com, totaljobs and through the local job centre, there are many job sites available
- Be strategic. While, unfortunately, many parts of the economy are severely affected and may not recover for many months, others are seeing growth and offer more job opportunities than before. For example, any plans of working in hospitality industry may need to be put on hold but there other roles – in supermarkets or companies who are managing deliveries that may offer a good first UK-based professional experience. Take some time with the person you support to explore what opportunities are available locally. Remember and remind them that they are looking for the first step into a labour market, not a job for life!
- When you were planning your application, you will have researched what possible volunteering or work experience opportunities were available in your area. Revisit these avenues – are they still possible or available? Would this family member have an interest if so?
- Explore opportunities to volunteer or work remotely. If so, assist the family member you’re supporting to work out what they would need to make this work. Do they need a device to work on? Any IT equipment or support? Does the volunteer-involving organisation contribute to internet costs? Remember that working remotely does not only mean going somewhere to work – could the person you support participate in language exchange, or teach someone their native language? Could they share a skill that they have?
- Remember that all progress toward the end goal of employment is empowering. If the person you support is interested in working in hospitality, many training providers are able to carry out online training courses in languages other than English – certification is always going to help toward employment. Many training courses will have a charge, explore funding opportunities that may be available
- Learning English will open up more avenues to employment for newly arrived families. Consider providing informal ESOL opportunities which are focussed on employment goals, using the language that will be in that place of work.
Whilst it may be a cliché, it is true that we’re all living in extraordinary times; whilst it’s important to manage expectations around employment, it’s also important for you to be kind to yourselves. Community Sponsorship Groups cannot magically conjure up a job opportunity, and the family member you support is already going through a huge amount of changes which may make employment slightly lower on their list of priorities to say, learning English or settling into a new area.