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Providing Sanctuary

With the latest 2020 figures from the UN Refugee Agency reporting a staggering 1 per cent of humanity is currently displaced; here in Wales, USW Refugee Champion Dr Mike Chick is leading the response in helping recently arrived forced migrants to fulfil their potential.

Providing Sanctuary

With the latest 2020 figures from the UN Refugee Agency reporting a staggering 1 per cent of humanity is currently displaced; here in Wales, USW Refugee Champion Dr Mike Chick is leading the response in helping recently arrived forced migrants to fulfil their potential.

As USW’s Refugee Champion, Mike manages and advises on the support that refugees can get from the University, and promotes the USW Refugee Sanctuary Scheme, which provides support to a limited number of eligible refugees to access free English language preparation prior to starting an undergraduate course.

Universities are uniquely placed to contribute to society in many, diverse ways. Bringing people together, breaking down barriers and stereotypes and helping folk share their cultures and build new lives - that's hard to beat.

Dr Mike Chick

His research into ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) provision for forced migrants has addressed the challenges faced when resettling refugee families in areas of Wales where local authorities have little experience of providing language education programmes.

His innovative collaboration with the Welsh Refugee Council has led to trainee language teachers at the University delivering English language classes based on the real-life needs of the refugee and asylum seeker students.  It’s had life-changing effect on both the students and the English-language learners. 

“The collaboration with the Welsh Refugee Council has meant that our students have taught, and come to know, hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers in Wales, many of whom are the same age as them. They have got to know them as equals – not as the demonised, cause of problems, so often portrayed by the mainstream media,” said Dr Chick.

As part of this collaboration, Dr Chick advises on the ESOL provision that is currently delivered at the Welsh Refugee Council’s headquarters in Cardiff. 

His model was detailed in Higher Education and Voluntary Sector Collaboration for ESOL Provision in the British Academy Report Local actions to promote social integration. It won the award for Best Societal Impact in the USW Impact Awards 2019 and the Learning and Work Institute’s 2016 award for Best Community Project. 

In March the University received University of Sanctuary status and became only the second HE institution in Wales to have this awarded. University of Sanctuary status recognises USW’s commitment to creating a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary within, and beyond, its campuses.