A PROJECT which helps refugees and migrants in Bradford get into employment and training has been handed a two year funding boost.

Connecting Opportunities, which is run by Migration Yorkshire, works with refugees and new migrants in Bradford and West Yorkshire to help them develop skills, find employment and become a part of their local community.

It began work in July 2017, and of the 859 people who have engaged with the programme more than 90 per cent are in work or further education or training.

It has been handed funding to allow it to run for an extra two years thanks to cash from the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund, the main way the European Union supports employment in its member states.

The 859 people helped so far by the programme have come from more than 75 different countries.

Of those, 48 per cent have exited the programme into work, and 46 per cent have moved into further education or training.

The free service provides a unique combination of one-to-one support, English classes, mental health and wellbeing support, help to find a job and employment skills training.

On top of this it provides a range of other services, such as befriending, and it even runs its own Connecting Opportunities football team which has proved very popular among service users, and the team came second in a tournament held during Refugee Week earlier this year.

Loneliness and isolation can be a problem for many people moving to new areas, and through its work the programme aims to help refugees and migrants build confidence and make new friends.

The Connecting Opportunities is open to any refugees or migrants who have been in the UK for less than ten years and are aged 15 or over and have te right to work in the UK.

Vanessa Lendzionowski, project manager at Connecting Opportunities, said: “Connecting Opportunities is changing lives and supporting people on inspirational journeys towards their goals.

“Our participants and partner organisations across the Leeds City Region, should be proud of what they have achieved so far.”

Led by Migration Yorkshire, other organisations involved in running the Connecting Opportunities programme are; Dominion Training, Halifax Opportunities Trust, Horton Housing, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network, Nova, PATH Yorkshire, Solace Surviving Exile and Persecution, The Children’s Society, Touchstone and Women Centre.

Moussa came to Bradford as a migrant from Burundi and Connecting Opportunities played a big part in helping him settle in the UK.

As well as helping him find work, he also joined the programme’s football team which helped him make new friends.

Speaking about playing in the Refugee Week tournament, he said: “It was a great opportunity for refugees or migrants to improve their football skills and also to get experience from different people.

“We made many friends from different cities. Connecting Opportunities helps refugees or migrants to make difference in their life, also to make progress into employment.”

For more information about the Connecting Opportunities programme or to make a referral, visit connectingopportunities.org.uk, or call 0113 3788700.