Finding Volunteer and Employment opportunities

The Path To Employment

Depending on the (English) skills of the adults in the family, you may have started to look at volunteer and employment opportunities before this stage. 

We include it here because, in our experience, it generally takes at least a couple of months of settling in and learning the language before the family are ready to consider the idea of volunteering, doing work experience or taking on a job. 


Most of the families will arrive with little to no English so language is a first step towards long-term, meaningful employment.

While ESOL classes cover the important basics, adult family members always benefit from volunteering. Not only does it provide the colloquial language so essential for progress but also the social networks, friendships and introduction to the expectations of the UK job market.

We should note that volunteering is not common practice in the Middle East and hence the family may be wary of the idea. Sharing a story of another refugee who used volunteering as a stepping stone to gaining meaningful employment enables the family to understand its importance and relevance.

Websites for volunteering:

Towards Meaningful Employment

"Without meaningful employment, there can be no real integration", Heidi, Community Sponsor

Before deep diving into the depths of various job sites, we must first understand the dreams and aspirations of the family members. Whether they arrive with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering or have worked as farmers for twenty years, it is our duty as sponsors to help them figure out where on the job market they truly wish to land. See section 5, module 42 for how to conduct Person Centred Planning.

Once we have established a direction, we can commence the practical next steps. As Heidi rightly points out in the zoom call video, many of us have vast social and professional networks we can draw on so perhaps this is where opportunities will pop up.

If our networks do not offer fruitful solutions, the internet often does. However, as a non-native these can be difficult to navigate so we advise you to spend some time with the person until they have mastered the search.

Concurrently, the employment experts of the group will need to assist with the following:

  • Creating a CV to UK standards
  • Assist with cover letters
  • Practice mock interviews
  • Explain cultural do's and dont's at interviews i.e. handshakes, how to answer unexpected questions etc.

As the art of job hunting is perfected, we can create templates that are easily adapted to different roles.

It is also important to prepare the family for the steep journey job hunting can present. Not getting a job does not mean that they're not suitable but that the job market is highly competitive.

Attached - Lunch & Learn on Employment for resettled refugees 1

Attached - Lunch & Learn on Employment for resettled refugees 2

For further information on employment for refugees specifically, you can check out these websites:

Education & Training

Reset has created a list of sources of funding for training and education that are available to Refugees.

All Safe: Level 1 Food Hygiene and Health & Safety Induction Programme - ARABIC - link

A Shortcut to Employment: UK Driver's License

For many refugees who arrive in the UK, the job market can be a difficult place to navigate, particularly if they have limited language skills.

Although a driving test requires some level of English, studying for the test actually offers an empowering way of acquiring language skills.

Case study: How Syrian Abdullah Got Driving

Attached - video of zoom call with Q&A about obtaining driver's license

Newly arrived Syrian refugee, Abdullah, explains how he studied for the theory and driving tests using smart softwares. This software enabled him to translate the questions directly into Arabic.

The software Abdullah used is available through ABEL Drive for Life, a driving school in Manchester and can be purchased for £25.99.

He studied approximately 3 hours a couple of times a week for 3 months and attended a total of 12 classes. Abdullah also tells us that if you request it beforehand, you are able to use a voiceover for the test to ensure you've accurately understood the written words. The test can only be taken in English.

The Glasgow Syrian Network has made a series of videos on YouTube for practice in Arabic.

Abdullah arrived with an international driver's license which he brought with him from Syria meaning he already knew how to drive. He started driving in the UK 2 months after he arrived.

It's important to note that the group contacted an instructor who had experience teaching foreigners with limited English.

In terms of budget, the group had secured a grant of £500 from Goldman Sachs which unfortunately no longer exists but similar options may be available. To get a car, Abdullah relied on his network of Syrians in Somerset where one friend sold him a car at a significant discount.

Most importantly, the driver's license enabled Abdullah to land a job 10 miles from his home - an achievement that wouldn't have been possible without it.

Audiofile: Reset zoom - driver's license.m4a