From education to employment

ESOL student Mohammad follows his dreams to make a success of his new life

New City College student Mohammad Golkar is determined to make a success of his life in London after fleeing Iran as a refugee.

At the tender age of 18 he has already experienced extreme hardship and fear that many of us will never have to face.

But now – just a year after arriving in the UK – he is thriving on his ESOL course at New City College Tower Hamlets and has a part-time job on a market stall that has boosted his confidence and given him the opportunity to meet new people and practise his English language skills.

With his bright and cheerful demeanour, Mohammad is popular with staff and other students at college and is a firm favourite with regulars to Camberwell Green Market where he works for Breadwinners, running their fresh sourdough bread stall.

Breadwinners is a not-for-profit social enterprise and charity which gives young refugees their first job and supports them into further work experience and employment.

Mohammad was a political activist against the regime in Iran and as well as the risks to his safety, there were few opportunities to get an education or a job. So, he made the difficult decision to leave his homeland.

He said: “If I return to Iran, I am sure that I will be killed.”

But his first few months after arriving in England, alone, as a 17-year-old were difficult. 

He said: “There were new streets, new buildings, new transport, and I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t even know where or how to buy a new sim card. I thought, how can I meet people if I can’t communicate? It was crazy.”

One year later, after joining New City College and studying English, Maths, Science, Digital Skills, Reading, Writing, and Speaking & Listening as part of his ESOL course, Mohammad can hold a conversation and chat confidently to anyone.

He says working for Breadwinners has helped him enormously and he really enjoys the buzz of the market. “The best thing is engaging with people. If I stay at home and I think about my past and my situation, I can get a bit depressed. But I like coming to the stall to meet and speak to new people.”

He said he is grateful to have been given a second chance: “Young asylum seekers and refugees want to engage with society. We have lost everything and we come here with nothing. Give us any opportunity to stay and work for your country. We are not able to make ours beautiful anymore, so let us help you to make yours beautiful.”

When he’s not working, Mohammad attends classes at New City College and wants to gain all the qualifications he can so that in the future he will have the chance of going to university to get a degree.

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