Three former refugees who now call Reading home represented the town at an EU conference on refugee integration in Antwerp.
The Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) has taken part in the project over the last two years and 25 refugee women from Reading have had the opportunity to attend one of the quarterly conferences.
It aims to build self-confidence, identify steps towards integration and give women practical careers advice and job-hunting skills. The EU Grundtvig project focussed specifically on women refugees and the Reading Refugees Support Group worked with four refugee charities from other European countries to run the quarterly conferences.
Katherine Prudhoe, who co-ordinated the visit to Antwerp, said: “Helping women refugees to learn English and integrate into British society enables them to play a valuable part in local life.
“They can pass on positive values to children, help their family to integrate and follow their ambitions through retraining or finding employment.
“There are similar issues around refugee integration across Europe which is why several countries clubbed together to share resources.”
Most of the refugees and asylum seekers in and around Reading are forced to leave their country of birth due to threats against them or their families. Once in the UK, they may have to wait several years while the UK Government determines their refugee status. The trauma of being uprooted followed by a period of uncertainty over the future is the reason why refugees may need more support.
Nina Lugor from the RRSG helped make the Antwerp visit possible.
She said, “The project has opened my eyes to struggles that refugees go through, especially in finding work.”
The Reading Refugee Support Group helps asylum seekers and refugees in the Reading area with their English language skills, legal support and emergency housing and food relief.