Adeel’s Journey: Putting Lived Experience at the Heart of the Refugee Employability Programme

  • Monday, December 18, 2023
GCE REP Adeel Case Study Social 181223 I
  • The Growth Company (GC) delivers the Home Office Refugee Employability Programme (REP) across Yorkshire and the Humber.
  • The programme aims to help refugees into sustained employment through individually tailored support.
  • To mark International Migrants Day, we spoke to Adeel, a REP employment advisor who draws on his own lived experience to help participants across the region.

At the turn of the 21st century, the United Nations General Assembly designated 18th December as International Migrant’s Day. The delegates’ intention was to draw attention to the human rights of migrants and highlight their contribution to society.

This year, to mark the occasion, we spoke to Adeel, an employment advisor for the Refugee Employability Programme who has drawn on his own lived experience to help refugees across Yorkshire and the Humber.

From Pakistan to the UK

Adeel moved to the UK from Pakistan in 1997. He was granted asylum soon after and reunited with his father, who had made the same journey years before.

Adeel faced several challenges adjusting to life in a new country and culture. Although he had graduated from university back in Pakistan, he spoke little English and therefore lacked the confidence to communicate with others. Eager to adapt, Adeel learned that there was little available support to help him find a job and integrate into his local community.

Even so, Adeel persisted and eventually thrived. He started a family, enrolled in college, where he found support from the teachers, and started life as a support worker. He joined the Growth Company in 2015, most recently working on the Restart Scheme. Earlier this year, his manager encouraged him to apply for a role at REP. Adeel completed his training in August, and began work when the programme launched in September, providing advice and guidance to participants in South Yorkshire.

Lived experience as professional practice

Reflecting on his biography and how it informs his role, Adeel explained: “When I meet participants, I share my own experiences with them to offer encouragement and show them that if I can overcome challenges, so can they.

“When I came to the UK at the age of 27, there weren’t many opportunities. I learned English by watching children’s movies with my kids, and initially struggled to find employment. That’s why it’s important for me to highlight the support REP can offer because often we can save precious time for refugees and referral services, who may have lengthy processes in place when it comes to accessing support.”

A holistic approach

Adeel speaks many languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and Mirpuri, which means that he can aid participants from a range of different backgrounds – and help his colleagues do the same. Alongside language and employability skills support, Adeel adopts a holistic approach to assisting participants, often helping them with driving licence applications, the completion of forms, and accessing foodbank, housing, and financial support, as well as signposting other services.

Indeed, Adeel regularly goes out of his way to make sure that participants get the support they need. Recently, he accompanied someone to their local GP surgery, helping them fill out the registration forms. He also supported a woman who had been told she had to leave her home, attending a scheduled meeting with the local council, and arranging a halal food package for her.

Helping as many people as possible

Adeel is determined to help as many people as possible through REP and is encouraging referrals from organisations working with refugees across South Yorkshire: “It’s important for me to highlight the support REP can offer. We are a flexible and accommodating team, ready and waiting to welcome individuals with kindness and understanding and to help in any way we can, so if you’re a service working with refugees, please get in touch.”

When asked what he found most rewarding about his role, Adeel said: “It’s incredibly rewarding to see people coming out of their shell and slowly building confidence because of the support I have provided.

“I always try my best to encourage people, to show them that they can do it – so when they tell me they are feeling better or I’ve helped resolve an issue, I’m proud of the work I have done.”

Find Out More

If you would like more information, visit the Refugee Employability Programme website.

Get In Touch

The Growth Company is an award-winning social enterprise with a mission to generate growth, create jobs, and improve lives. We offer employment services across Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, Lancashire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire and Humber.

Get in touch today to find out more.