We’re proud to be working in Newham – one of the most multi-cultural communities in the UK today, with over a hundred different languages spoken and a vibrant mix of ethnic groups.
This diversity is reflected in our own team, who speak over 16 different languages to support delivery of our employability programmes and provide residents with a quality service.
Since 2021, we have been delivering the Restart Scheme in South and East London, supporting thousands to learn new skills, overcome their barriers and find sustainable employment.
For some of our participants in Newham, English as a second language is often one of their barriers to employment. To help address this, our colleagues can communicate to participants in their native language, instantly putting them at ease as they begin their journey back into work.
Stela Chira is one of many multilingual Employment Advisors in Newham, speaking four languages – English, Italian, Russian and Romanian.
She said: “It’s fantastic to be working as part of such a diverse team, I’ve learned so much about different countries and cultures! As English is not the first language for many participants, they often need additional support from us. By having colleagues that speak all major languages, it ensures that every participant has access to support tailored to their needs.”
More than 800 Restart Scheme participants in Newham are currently receiving some form of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) support, which highlights the skills gap within the community.
To ensure every participant is fully supported, we provide multiple pathways to develop their English skills. We help those who don’t speak any English at all with intensive ESOL courses, provided by local colleges who form part of our Community Partnership Network (CPN). While for participants who speak limited English, they are referred to our Adult Education Budget service for a six-week course.
One of these participants was Rajmonda Vidrrica from Albania, who was referred to Newham College by her Employment Advisor, Anne-Mari Kukk.
Rajmonda joined the 12-week ESOL course to learn the basics in speaking, reading and writing, after being unemployed for five months and struggling to communicate in English.
Rajmonda explained: “Arriving in the UK from Albania, it was very scary as I found it difficult to talk to anyone. I never thought I would be able to speak English, let alone get a job. The college course was a great way for me to learn English quickly and my classmates made it fun and sociable. I’m very thankful to Anne-Mari and Maximus as they have really helped me.
“I soon started work at a local convenience store where I get to practice and improve my English every day talking to customers. I never imagined being able to hold conversations in English when I first came to the UK. The support I received was amazing.”
Through courses like this delivered by organisations that are part of our Community Partnership Network, we’re able to improve English skills and build confidence. The CPN in London consists of more than 150 providers who offer over 500 interventions to help our participants move closer to the labour market.
Sean Talbot, Head of Community Partnerships, said: “The Community Partnership Network provides our participants with a wraparound approach to employment as we collaborate with both national and local providers. These local providers have specialised expertise of the communities in which they work, allowing them to effectively assist our participants.
“With ESOL support, we work with colleges and educational organisations that are local to the participant. This means they are taught English within their local community, offering the best environment to learn effectively. Our local CPN organisations are vital in delivering community-based services that are tailored to the individual.”
Paul Riddick, Operations Manager for AEB London, described the importance of ESOL training to participants: “On a daily basis we see the benefits that spoken language skills have on an individual’s life. Coming to a new country and learning the language can often be daunting, so being able to help make this easier goes a long way towards supporting an individual into work.”