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Fresh Start supports refugees
07/06/18

Founded in 2016, Fresh Start is an initiative by Together for Change, seeking to work with churches and other organisations in Coventry to offer a warm and welcoming environment to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Led by Cultural Links Worker, Matt Robinson, in the last two years Fresh Start has established a number of exciting initiatives and seen God work in amazing ways.

One person Fresh Start has helped is *Aziz (name changed to protect his identity). Aziz arrived in the UK from Eritrea in September 2017 having fled his home in Eritrea to escape the dictatorial regime there. His journey took him through Libya, across the Mediterranean, through Europe to Calais, and then eventually to Coventry. He arrived with a limited grasp of English, but a real desire to improve so he can start a new life here.

Aziz started attending Fresh Start's English Conversation Cafes in November, having met Fresh Start Coordinator, Matt, through the free ESOL classes provided by Coventry City of Sanctuary. He has subsequently attended every conversation cafe over the past six months, practising his conversational English with speakers of other languages and Fresh Start's volunteers in the safe space offered by the Belgrade Theatre. Aziz engaged in over 80 hours of free conversational English support, both his English and - arguably more importantly - his confidence have hugely improved.

He recently attended an interview at Coventry College for a Mechanics course, having worked as a mechanic in Eritrea before fleeing. Normally, recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers would struggle to get onto such a course until they had lived here for at least 2 years as their English would not be strong enough to engage with a specialist course in their second language. However, Aziz's English has improved so drastically that Coventry College have accepted him for the Mechanics course starting this September, offering him a clear springboard into the career he is so passionate about.

Aziz said to Matt;

"Thank you so much for all your help since I arrived here. When I arrived I didn't know anybody, but through the Conversation Cafes and football I have made many friends and feel more confident talking to British people"

Thank you to everyone who volunteers for Fresh Start. Please keep praying for this project so Matt and his team can see more lives changed.

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