Horton Housing win regional award for refugee training programme

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Horton Housing Association has scooped a Northern Housing Award for its STEP (Specialist Training and Employment Programme) which helps train and prepare Syrian refugees to secure employment. The award was in the Resident Employment/Training Initiative of the Year category.

The programme, pioneered and developed by the partnership of World Jewish Relief and Horton Housing, is tailored to fit around the needs of each individual refugee to help them rebuild their lives in the UK. Some have no work experience or little or no English language skills while others already have qualifications and a professional background but need a helping hand to transfer this to the UK working environment.

The programme began as a pilot at Horton Housing’s training centre in Bradford in April 2016. It has expanded to Coventry and across Yorkshire and been funded by the Home Office, so far helping 66 people into employment or training.

It aims to support individuals and their wider families by offering ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes to everyone, which means that the whole family is supported to integrate into the community.

The programme has also made links to professional bodies who can help participants apply for further training courses in their chosen fields and shares best practice with other STEP programmes which have since been set up in Sheffield, Leeds and Coventry.

STEP has already attracted wide interest, being the first programme of its kind in the country. Horton Housing received a visit from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in June 2017 and in April 2018, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP paid a visit.

Paul Gartland, Chief Executive Officer of Horton Housing, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our STEP programme has been recognised. Our ethos as an organisation is to help people to reach a point where they can live independent lives and feel empowered to attain their personal goals. The STEP programme is achieving this and seeing some fantastic results, all thanks to the excellent team running it, so they wholeheartedly deserve this award.”

Janice Lopatkin, Programme Director (UK), World Jewish Relief said: “The alignment of values and ambition between World Jewish Relief and Horton Housing has created an award-winning partnership of which I’m so proud. It is further evidence of the importance of working closely with refugees on language skills, confidence-building and ultimately helping them to find employment and integrate into British society. Of those who we have helped to become ‘job-ready’, 75% have found employment and this is testament to the strength of our partnership with Horton.”

Horton Housing were nominated for two awards at the Northern Housing Awards in the categories of Best Initiative to Tackle Homelessness for our Intensive Housing Management (IHM) schemes and for Resident Employment/Training Initiative of the Year for STEP.