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To overcome social exclusion, help the most vulnerable migrant and refugee women learn English

Monday, December 5, 2016

Today the Wonder Foundation acknowledges the recommendations of the Casey Review into inclusion and opportunity in the UK. The Review, which tackled the issues of social integration across different communities, rightly highlights the importance of empowering marginalised women, improving English language teaching in community settings and encouraging more social mixing among young people of all backgrounds.

hese recommendations are backed up by the Wonder Foundation’s recent report “Women Breaking the English Barrier”, which found that most vulnerable migrant and refugee women want to learn English and integrate, but many are unable to do so. English classes were too often inaccessible due to cost, childcare or other familial responsibilities or lack of local provision, for example.  To improve accessibility of English classes as the Casey Review suggests, our report showed that teaching in empowering, friendly community spaces and offering women-only classes were essential accommodate the most vulnerable women, whose mental health and literacy challenges may otherwise prevent them from attending.

Like the Casey Review, our report also found that social mixing was key, as women who had tried to learn English were consistently unable to practice skills with native English speakers. Initiatives shared between different communities, such as those explored in Wonder Foundation’s EU-backed “A Refugee Like Me” project, are critical ways to start to address this.  

Olivia Darby, Wonder Foundation Policy Director and main author of “Women Breaking the English Barrier”, said:

“The Casey Review recognises that women need to be given the opportunity to learn English, and that without it daily life and active participation in UK society are challenging. We know from recent funding allocated to Syrian refugees that the government understands the value of learning English for wellbeing and integration. We hope that this review will further persuade them that all female refugees and vulnerable migrants, regardless of their ethnicity, should be given the same opportunity to learn, integrate and fully take part in British society.”

Read the “Women Breaking the English Barrier” report here.

Donate now to help vulnerable women in south London learn English.

Find out more about WONDER’s work with refugees here.

For more information or enquiries, get in touch: