Empowering refugees through our specialist employability programme

Home Icon

We’re committed to addressing the unique challenges faced by refugees as they settle into a new community. Delivered on behalf of the Home Office, we have been providing specialised employment support to refugees in the North West and West Midlands through the Refugee Employability Programme since September 2023 – helping them to prepare for a new and independent life in the UK.

Abdul Rafay, 27, arrived in the UK in 2020 from Pakistan in pursuit of a safer and secure life. Whilst he felt less exposed to any danger, he felt isolated, and this began to have an adverse effect on his mental health.    

He explained: “When I first arrived in the UK, it was one of the most difficult periods of my life, as I couldn’t work or study.  I started to feel depressed and anxious which subsequently led to substance abuse as it helped ease my anxiety.”  

While waiting for his asylum application to be processed, Abdul obtained temporary shelter in Morecambe but struggled to find sustainable employment due his poor mental health.    

Abdul continued: “I didn’t understand the job searching and application process and struggled to settle in my new environment. I started to feel it would be impossible to get a job and was desperate for help.”  

When his asylum had been granted, Abdul was referred to the REP service in November 2023 and started working with his Maximus Case Manager, Daria Pawlak.   

Daria said: “When I first met with Abdul, he was visibly distressed and apprehensive. I spent time getting to know him, explaining how we could help.    

“Abdul was totally honest with me about his substance misuse. We completed an NHS mental health referral, and made an appointment with his GP, to discuss further support options.”  

In addition, Daria referred Abdul to Inspire Morecambe, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, and attended his first appointment with him, at his request.    

To ensure that he was fully prepared to start work, Abdul created a new CV, received English language support and was shown how to effectively job search.   

Abdul reflected: “Daria explained in detail how the programme could help me and the support I would receive. I was nervous but no longer felt that I was alone, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.”  

Abdul began applying for different vacancies and when he successfully interviewed for an IT Technician position with a local IT Asset Disposal organisation, he was overjoyed. Following receipt of his DBS check, he started work in January 2024 and is now thriving.   

Reflecting on the programme, Abdul concluded: “Daria believed in me and understood how desperate I was to work so I could support myself financially. I am so happy to be in work and I feel like a weight has been lifted. I’m doing well and started to make friends and it’s all thanks to Daria and Maximus.” 

Nathan Weekes, Regional Contract Director at Maximus, said: “Our teams have supported hundreds of refugees to develop and move forward since the launch of the REP contract in September. Whether that be by helping people integrate, remove their language barrier or find employment, ultimately we are helping people transform their lives after the trauma of being displaced from their homes.”

To find out more about the Refugee Employability Programme and whether it could support you, visit our website

09 May, 2024