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Newsletter Guest Editor Ravi interviews ‘Pathways to Work’ Employment Support Officer Nabil

By February 20, 2024March 6th, 2024Blog post

Removing barriers to power for people with lived experience of the asylum system in the UK is crucial to Refugee Action’s mission.  

Our ‘Pathways to Work’ programme aims to do exactly that. The programme helps people reach their goals in employment and education. We focus on aspirations, empowering people to find the jobs they want and helping them to achieve their sense of purpose again.  

Guest Editor of our Winter Newsletter, Ravi, had the opportunity to talk to Employment Support Officer Nabil to find out more about his role, his motivations for working with Refugee Action and his perspective as an Expert by Experience providing support to others in the programme who share similar lived backgrounds. 

Can you tell me a bit about your role at Refugee Action?  

I work as an Employment Support Officer within the Pathways to Work Team. I provide tailored employability advice for people from the refugee community. I enable and empower them to integrate and understand the working culture through one-to-one sessions that enhance their capabilities to apply for work or volunteering placements. 

What drew you to working at Refugee Action? 

I chose to work at Refugee Action because I believe in supporting people with lived experience. I believe that I get to play a part in changing people’s lives every day. I’m an Expert by Experience who went through the hard journey of claiming asylum too. I believe that I can support others made vulnerable with my expertise and help them with the barriers they face.  

How do you feel about supporting someone in their career and improving their lives?  

I get self-satisfaction from seeing someone progressing. When someone comes to me and tells me their stories it makes my day; it inspires me. Every decision someone takes is hard but at least I can help them to take the best one. 

I attended the Pathways to Work programme and found it helpful in my career progression. I wonder if are there any modules for people interested in becoming entrepreneurs?  

At the moment it is an area that we’re planning to develop. We’re exploring the different alternatives available so we can create the right mentorship for those interested in becoming business leaders.  

Volunteering in a charity and giving advice has taught me a lot from different people. Could you share any thing you’ve learned from the people you’re supporting? 

There’s so much learning from people. Each person has their own journey and brings diversity to our personal experiences. I’ve learned to be empathetic to progress and deliver a professional service for people.  

Having that in mind, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the experiences of people from asylum backgrounds? 

Yes, absolutely. I’ve lived that experience and it was difficult. It’s hard to disconnect but I try to convert those experiences to positive ones. It’s hard not to react to people’s stories but I have to stay professional to enable them to get forward. To protect myself I set expectations about the services in the first interaction.  

What is the most rewarding thing about your role?  

People’s success. Well, let’s not say success because success might be a big word. Let’s say people progressing towards what they want, even if it is one step at a time. This might not necessarily mean they reach their destination, but they are on the right track. They know where they’re going. You feel good that you are a part of their success in this progress. You are helping to make that possible for them. 

Do you have stand-out moments from when you’ve been supporting someone that you could share?  

Yes, there was a client who used to be a marketing manager before becoming a refugee. It was hard to then go back down to an entry level role here in the UK. I advised her to bring value so she could be promoted. Recently she contacted me to tell me she got a promotion. That was lovely to hear. Celebrating people’s success is the most rewarding thing about my role. 

“I always say that integration is important. Sometimes people find it hard to integrate because they are afraid of rejection or losing their identity however integration is the key to success in the UK.”