As we celebrate another year of supporting Breaking Barriers, it is great to see the successful outcomes from their yearly impact report. Breaking Barriers provides refugees with meaningful employment, advice, experience and education. To give an example of their great work and why we continue to donate, we’d like to share a story from Sherehan, who has been directly supported by Breaking Barriers.
“My name is Sherehan and before I came to the UK I used to live with my family in Cairo and work as a human rights lawyer. I moved to Europe to do my Masters in 2016. While I was studying in London, the Egyptian Government began to target individuals working in human rights and arrested some of my colleagues because of our work, some people I know were given a death sentence and my manager was given a ten-year prison sentence. I was advised not to return and to seek asylum in the UK. This was such a hard decision as I had to leave behind my family, my career, and my whole life. Once I completed my studies and achieved my refugee status, I found it incredibly hard to find a job matching my skills and previous career. You apply for thousands of jobs and hear nothing from them. Trying to understand how the UK job market works is very difficult, add to that, the cost of transferring qualifications here with no access to jobs or low-paid jobs makes things even harder. For example, to practice as a qualified solicitor here in the UK I need to do specialised study and exams to be able to practice, and it costs thousands, which isn’t easy to afford with the retail jobs I had. When I found Breaking Barriers, they helped me in so many ways. I had personalised mentoring sessions that helped me to improve my application and interview skills. My caseworker helped me to arrange sessions with professional volunteers to advise on what is needed for the jobs I was applying for. Also, I attended different employability workshops related to my experience and field helping to improve my knowledge of the job market in my sector.
Through Breaking Barriers partnership with Barbri, I was able to access a course that is helping me to prepare for the SQE exam, which will enable me to qualify as a solicitor here in the UK. To gain the experience I needed, I was then able to get a work placement as a litigation paralegal through Breaking Barriers Academy programme. It was an amazing experience that helped me to use my knowledge in human rights and environmental issues and helped me to network with other solicitors and professionals in the legal field. I’m now employed at the law firm in a permanent full-time paralegal role, and it feels incredible to see how far I have come. Breaking Barriers has helped me to feel part of a community and less alone, and I look forward to rebuilding my future and being able to help other refugees, which has always been my passion.”
Find out more about the communities we support on our giving back page.