Shifting the refugee narrative from challenge to opportunity
When refugees leave their home nations, they do not leave behind qualifications, education, career goals or ambition.
By working to support refugees, businesses also access a pool of employees that might otherwise never be recognised for their talent and drive.
Our support for refugee initiatives is far-reaching. It includes helping refugees build experience, confidence and insight into British culture though workshops, skills development and work placements. We offer mentoring and employability guidance, all to help refugees in their search for sustainable employment.
We've been actively advocating for integration since 2018. Highlighting opportunities instead of the challenges faced. This mindset means our conversations around talent are diverse, inclusive, and overwhelmingly positive. So far, we’ve supported over 100 refugees on their journey to meaningful employment.
Partnerships with charities such as Breaking Barriers and Business in the Community mean we can use our position as a firm, and as individuals, to assist refugees with integrating successfully into UK culture appropriately and effectively.
Business in the Community recognised our firm as a 2020 Responsible Business Champion.
As a member of the Tent Partnership, we are part of a global business network committed to improving the livelihoods of refugees through integration into core business operations.
Find out how our programme has helped refugees.
"Helping refugees to find work was truly inspirational! Amazing people, amazing experience and an incredible time spent putting our first world problems in perspective."
Karen Higgins, Head of Sustainability
Providing a lifeline
We have donated over 30 mobile phones to Care4Calais, a charity working with refugees in France and those who have recently arrived in the UK. Care4Calais helps refugees in temporary accommodation to access legal aid, medical care and other necessities while their asylum claims are being processed.
Hermione Regan, Associate and experienced volunteer with Care4Calais, acknowledges how essential mobile phones are to refugees. "People awaiting asylum often have their phones confiscated when they reach the UK. For a vulnerable new arrival in the UK, these phones are a lifeline: translators, maps, guides and a vital way to stay in touch with friends and family. It's fantastic to work for a firm where people are empowered to help others in need."
Awais’ story: from refugee to Grant Thornton employee
We work with Breaking Barriers to support refugees into employment.
Prudence Mwanza joined Grant Thornton through a Breaking Barriers work placement programme. In Zambia, she was a skilled professional specialising in education and business and ran her own charity. Pru came to the UK on a student visa, but when her circumstances changed, she was forced to apply for discretionary leave to remain.
The process of rejection and application took a gruelling ten years, during which time Pru was unable to take on paid work. When finally she was granted refugee status, she returned to studying, working on updating her qualifications and volunteering her time for other organisations. Through Breaking Barriers, Grant Thornton had the privilege of welcoming Pru onto their team in the first-ever work placement.
"It's been such a great opportunity for me, giving me the confidence to go out again and compete for jobs."
Pru joined us in the Cyber Security department, a role that was challenging in many ways. She had been out of paid employment for a decade and adjusting to the pace, technology and commute took time and support. Thankfully both were available to her. The partnership between Grant Thornton and Breaking Barriers ensured we created a working environment that helped her thrive, with a network of supporters, confidence builders and colleagues who eventually became friends.
The six-month placement was enormously beneficial for everyone involved. Pru’s presence was inspiring to her team members and the experience gave Pru a chance to develop skills and adjust to life in a firm like Grant Thornton. She said, "It's been such a great opportunity for me, giving me the confidence to go out again and compete for jobs."
From here, Prudence went on to a role in the education sector, working in her dream job as a quality auditor and a management consultant in Berkshire where she lives. Since then, Pru has flourished both as a student and becoming a Trustee at Breaking Barriers.
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