Refugee Action has partnered with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to expand its Pathways to Work programme after the RNAi therapeutics company made a three-year corporate donation worth £100,000 a year.
The partnership will allow Refugee Action to expand its small existing team and group workshop model – which currently supports 80 people a year with their English language and employability skills – to support an extra 450 refugees and people seeking asylum over the next three years.
Since starting in January 2022, the project has resulted in 100 per cent of people reporting increased confidence, competency, and skills in how to engage with UK employment systems, as evidenced by active job searching, interviews and volunteering, measured against the charity’s outcomes measuring tool.
There are currently more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began. The unemployment rate fell to 3.7 per cent between January and March, its lowest for almost 50 years, as job openings rose to a new high of 1.3 million.
Many refugees are forced to leave successful careers behind when they flee their country, and so have a wealth of skills to share.
Refugees face huge barriers that affect their ability to work including gaps in employment history, inability to use qualifications from their country of origin, language barriers, inexperience of the UK labour market, lack of digital access, homelessness and poverty, as well as exploitation and structural racism.
People seeking asylum are effectively banned from working, which can leave them out of work for years while their claim for refugee status is processed, which drains their confidence, wastes their skills, and makes it harder to find work when their claim is successful.
Tim Naor Hilton, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:
“Alnylam’s financial support is transformational for Refugee Action, allowing us to hire new case-workers so that we can significantly scale the Pathways to Work programme.
“Creating a digital version of our over-subscribed programme will grow the number of participants who can benefit, removing barriers to participation such as travel costs and child-care concerns, which might unfairly restrict women from participating, and help us tackle digital exclusion by providing the necessary equipment and data to refugees, as well as apply for jobs using the internet.
“Alnylam’s diverse employee population and bold ‘Challenge Accepted’ attitude is a perfect fit for us and we look forward to many Alnylam UK employees getting directly involved in the work that we do, through mentoring or other activities.”
Phil Davey, Vice President and Country Manager, Alnylam UK & Ireland, said:
“Members of our UK team were directly involved in the selection of our first-ever corporate partner and we are proud to be partnering with Refugee Action to help address a significant social need in the UK.
“This Partnership is fully aligned with our global Alnylam Challengers initiative which seeks to address systemic health equity issues, advance the work of bold charitable organisations, and empower our employees to contribute to improve the health of under-represented and underserved people throughout the world.”