ODILS Event

Refugee Awareness Conference Q&A

Apr 15, 2019 | Events, Industry News, ODILS News, Students News

By Liliane Uwimana | ODILS Trustee

Check out our Q&A with ODILS Trustee, Liliane Uwimana. She tells us all about the Refugee Awareness Conference in Plymouth

Hi Liliane, can you tell us a little bit about you?

Hi, I am Liliane Uwimana, a mother, and wife. I do wear different hats, I am also a trustee at ODILS.

What do you do?

I work with my husband at DBI and I am currently studying at Plymouth University.

What was the Refugee Awareness Conference about?

The conference was about bringing together organisations that work with refugees in Plymouth and networking. Allowing them to present what they do. If people need referrals, they will be able to signpost them.

Who was the conference run by?

It was run by the Racial Equality Organisation.

Why and how did you get involved?

I was invited to share a positive story, it was more to do with ODILS and what they do to help integration. I shared my story of how I started with no English at all, and now being seated as a trustee in the same organization that supported me when I first arrived in the city. I spoke about the importance of learning the language and made sure that those who were there understood that the vehicle to full integration for a refugee is language.

Why is it so important?

For me personally, it important that a positive story could be heard and that people can just start looking at what diversity brings not what it takes away. That even refugees can positively contribute to the community and a society that has welcomed them.

What issues were spoken about at the conference?

It was more talking about the awareness of refugees, services, and the journey to become a refugee.

How do you feel it helped those who attended?

Perhaps, it helps services around the city to be in touch and to know where to signpost those who come to them.

What else do you think could help with refugee awareness?

I think we should bring awareness of the real life and struggle of the refugee. It should not just be services coming together to talk about refugees without someone who has life experience. We should talk about whether services do or do not help. Rather than talking on behalf of refugees, I think we need to be encouraged to speak for ourselves also.

How does ODILS help?

ODILS helps a lot as with no language you won’t be able to communicate and later on, integrate. It is very essential for everyone who comes to live in England with no understanding or knowledge of English.

Who should get in touch with ODILS?

Everyone who comes to the country with no spoken English or understanding of English.

Khaled, an ODILS student, shares the experience of attending the conference.

Hello, I’m Khaled. I’m a student in Open Doors.

I’ve gone to refugee conference with Jo and Dawn. It was interesting and exciting for me. I met new people there.

I met someone named Saif. He is a successful person. He told us about some of his life. I think he encouraged me to be a successful person like him.

We ate pastries and I talked to many people.

I want to thank the British United Kingdom for helping the refugees and thank you for everything.

I was glad at the conference, we’ve eaten and drank coffee and tea together. It was a wonderful conference.

Restore language support for UK driving test candidates

In 2014, after a deeply flawed public consultation, the Government withdrew the 'language support' that could be used by speakers of other languages to assist them in undertaking the UK driving test. All parts of the test, including the theory test, must now be undertaken in English (or Welsh). This has disenfranchised many migrants who have settled in the UK following the policy change, and in particular, the cohort of refugees resettling here under the ‘vulnerable persons resettlement scheme’ from 2015 onwards. It is holding back experienced drivers from working and preventing aspirant drivers, particularly women, from moving forward in their lives. Please sign the petition and support the campaign to get the Transport Select Committee to review the policy changes as was promised by the minister for January 2019 when the change was enacted. 

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