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Preston’s College wins national award for asylum seeker student support

Preston’s College wins national award for asylum seeker student support
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@PrestonCollege has created bespoke programmes of support for asylum seeker students has won a prestigious Association of Colleges Beacon Award.

Preston’s College picked up the prize in the RCU sponsored, Support for Students category for breaking down barriers including language and culture differences which can hamper integration. Expert staff and external support networks have used their in-depth awareness and knowledge of individual experiences to understand how an almost impossible journey to asylum impacts on individuals physical, emotional and mental health when they arrive in the UK.

Their initiative aims to empower and equipping learners with skills vital to starting to reclaim their lives, through a supported education after such shocking and harrowing journeys and ordeals. The college has adapted courses, and support practices for sanctuary seekers to enable a smooth transition to work and further education.

Now in its 25th year, the AoC Beacon Awards showcase best practice and innovation in colleges. It is designed to promote the interdependence of colleges, businesses and professional and voluntary organisations. The awards also highlight excellence and helps share best practice across the sector. 

On hearing the result, Lis Smith, Principal and CEO of Preston’s College said: “I am delighted that we have won the AoC Support for Students Beacon Award; a category which truly reflects our vision and values and places learners at the heart of everything we do. The ESOL team are a wonderful team who continue to work passionately and tirelessly, to seek opportunities to support the asylum seeker and refugee community, alongside the wider ESOL community.

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Ourselves and the Governors are extremely proud of the team and are fully committed to supporting an inclusive community provision. Widening access and participation is a fundamental element of the College Strategy and we are passionate about ensuring that learners from under-represented groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have fair access to education. I’d also like to thank RCU for sponsoring what was such a brilliant event.”

Richard Boniface, Managing Director of RCU Limited said: “It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to sponsor this award and play a key role in promoting the FE sector. Colleges across the country provide often vital support for their students and this work deserves to be commended. However, a special recognition and our congratulations goes out to everyone involved at Preston’s College for the unique and vitally important support they provide to asylum seekers in learning.

Julie Nerney, Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said: “This college has gone above and beyond in equipping and empowering students to have a voice, to solve their own challenges, make their own choices and to participate in their community. They have shown great dedication to fully support students into college, employment and adult life, enabling them to achieve their goals and helping them to transform their lives.”

Overview of the winning project

Preston’s approach to supporting asylum seeks and refugees and how our bespoke support programmes assist in breaking down barriers including language and culture differences which can hamper integration. Our expert staff and external support networks have used their in-depth awareness and knowledge of individual experiences to understand how an almost impossible journey to asylum impacts on individuals physical, emotional and mental health when they arrive in the UK.

This project aims to empower and enable our learners, equipping them with skills vital to them starting to reclaim their lives, through a supported education after such shocking and harrowing journeys and ordeals. The college has adapted courses, and support practices for sanctuary seekers to enable a smooth transition to work and further education.

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