Main photo: Gillian Moss, Head of Client Services at the North West Regional College with Conor Sharkey, Media and Communications Officer with the North West Migrants Forum. The pair were invited to the House of Lords in London to collect a ‘Charity Partnership of the Year Award’.
THE North West Migrants Forum and the North West Regional College have linked up in London to collect a prestigious award.
Gillian Moss, head of the College’s Client Services, joined the Migrants Forum’s Media Officer Conor Sharkey in the House of Lords as part of the ‘Good for Me Good for FE’ celebrations.
Good for Me Good for FE was established to recognise the efforts of staff and students in further education colleges across the UK who go above and beyond to create a better society.
In the case of the North West Regional College and the North West Migrants Forum, they partnered up to create a scholarship uniquely designed for international protection applicants.
In September Chukwuka ‘Frank’ Nwanonenyi became the first ever recipient of the Asylum Seeker Scholarship.
The Nigerian is now studying for an Access Adult Learning Diploma in Health and Welfare at the College’s Strand Road campus and hopes to go on to pursue a career in the health sector.
The collaboration between the two organisations impressed the judges enough for them to name the North West Migrants Forum ‘Charity Partner of the Year’.
Addressing those gathered in the House Of Lords, Gillian Moss said the College brought the Migrants Forum on board to help support its Black Leadership in FE project.
She also revealed how applications for the College’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses have soared since the creation of the scholarship.
“The aim of the partnership was to promote and encourage an awareness of staff and students and to better support those from black ethnic minority backgrounds,” Ms Moss said.
“During the work it was highlighted how asylum seekers were struggling to progress in their education, mainly due to financial barriers as they are classed as international students.
“To address this, scholarship places were created at the College to support asylum seekers who have progressed from ESOL to further or higher education courses. As a result ESOL applications have almost doubled. Therefore we are able to provide greater support and guidance for international students and asylum seekers settling in the region.
“In addition, the North West Migrants Forum offers volunteering opportunities, helping students to develop their language and employability skills.
“Working in partnership, the College and this fantastic charity have been able to open doors to education for many people who otherwise would not have been able to pursue their learning.”
The glittering ceremony saw organisations from across the UK recognised for their work.
A Special Recognition Award went to Lynn Pritchatt of Walsall College. In 2016 Lynn began raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of her partner. She set herself an initial target of £5,000 but quickly broke through the £25,000 barrier. Recently she linked with former rugby star Rob Burrow’s MND Centre Appeal to host a bowls challenge which raised in excess of £10,500.
Director of the North West Migrants Forum, Lilian Seenoi Barr, said the list of winners and runners-up was a testament to the incredible efforts ongoing in schools, community halls and the private sector.
“This award is a celebration of civic action at its finest. It highlights the partnership between the Migrants Forum and North West Regional College which exemplifies inclusivity and support for new residents seeking sanctuary in Derry and Northern Ireland.
“The recognition acknowledges the Migrants Forum’s dedicated efforts in assisting new residents, especially in these challenging times for people seeking asylum in the UK.
“Our joint venture, which includes the creation of ten scholarships and a committed team facilitating the integration of people seeking asylum in Derry, is a remarkable achievement.
“I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the North West Regional College for working hand in hand with us and embracing the ethos of inclusivity.
“In times when those seeking asylum face significant challenges, this award signifies a beacon of hope and solidarity.
“Looking ahead, we are excited about the prospect of further developing this close collaboration in the months and years to come.
“This award recognises our achievements and sends a powerful message that Derry is a welcoming and inclusive city, ready to support those in need. Together, we can build a community that values diversity, compassion and civic responsibility.”