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Community project shortlisted at national diversity awards

Pictured (left to right) are Kirsten Nimmo (ESOL Lecturer, Borders College), Maher Maghrabi (ESOL student), and Ana Macedo-Brown (ESOL Lecturer, Borders College)

Borders College has been short-listed in the Best Community Project category of The Herald and GenAnalytics Diversity Awards 2018 (in association with Standard Life Aberdeen).

Over the past two years, the College has worked with many local partners – including Scottish Borders Council (SBC) – as part of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project to help settle and integrate five Syrian families into the local community.

The College’s part in the project involved raising the adults’ English literacies levels. With the support of the College and SBC’s Community Learning and Development team, learners worked towards English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) literacy units (awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority), seven of whom achieved these between November 2017 and June 2018.

Their enhanced English language skills have proven useful in everyday life, enabling social inclusion through volunteering and forging new friendships, as well as helping a number of the group to pass their UK driving theory and practical tests and providing them with the potential to enjoy meaningful future careers in the UK.

The group were also named overall winners of the Learning in a Group Award at the Adult Learners Awards 2018.

A group spokesperson said at the time:

“The class has taught us to speak, read and write in English which has been so important in helping us and our families to settle into Scotland.”

It is expected that most will progress to higher levels of ESOL qualification, and two further adult learners who arrived in the UK in April this year are expected to join the ESOL programme for the first time.

One particular learner has not only gained a full-time place at Borders College on a further education course, but they have also been influential in encouraging diversity by enhancing their classmates’ understanding and acceptance of other cultures and religions.

Borders College’s Curriculum & Learning Manager for Social Skills and Transitions, Veronica Blackwood, said:
“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award in recognition of all the hard work that has been undertaken with the families over the last two years.”

The Diversity Awards will be presented at a formal awards dinner on 11 October 2018 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow.

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