The woman-led organisation changing the shape of refugee employment

UK for UNHCR spoke to The Launchpad Collective co-founders

25.03.2022

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© Casey Moore

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the amazing woman-led organisation The Launchpad Collective (TLC), which focuses on refugee employment.

Founded by two women who previously volunteered at the Migrant English Project in Brighton, TLC began during the first lockdown in 2020. Co-founders Jane and Summerly noted the lack of local bespoke provision of job support for people from refugee backgrounds. So, together, they embarked on a journey to provide this support.

“Lockdown changed everything for everyone. We used this time to form a collective with refugees, harnessing this lived expertise to co-create a needs-driven, work-ready programme,” Jane recalled. The founders carried out extensive research amongst refugee support groups, councils, charities and other key stakeholders to broaden their understanding of refugee employment.

“We did a lot of listening,” she continued.

“The employment process is daunting for everybody,” said Summerly, but through their research TLC recognised that there were additional barriers to employment which were specific to refugees, especially women. While language barriers and connections were more universal, cultural and gender differences and building women’s confidence were also significant.

Although the journey to employment for some female refugees may seem daunting, TLC wants women everywhere to know that it is achievable with the right support.

“You may think you have less of a voice, less of a right to say something and be listened to. Maybe you feel you can’t say what you need. You have the right to be here in this country, you should feel confident to do what you want and say what you need. Rather than give up, you have to do things from your heart, find your voice and fight. I have to fight – not for myself, but for the other people who will come after me,” says Rabab Al Awadhi, TLC’s client coordinator.

She continues…

“You need to adapt to this new life, take any opportunity you have to find a job, to have experience. As a refugee, it’s very hard to find the same job as in your home country, you need to accept this and adapt. Sometimes it is not easy, but do not put too much pressure on yourself, just take one step at a time”

Whilst many refugees do face additional barriers to employment, TLC acts as a much-needed support network. As Summerly explains, “We fill the support gap of friends and family that they’ve had to leave behind.”

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To read more about The Launchpad Collective’s work, please visit their website.

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