Refugees and other migrants sometimes struggle to find work in the UK.

Connecting Opportunities offers people who are thinking about work the chance to

  • build their confidence,
  • improve their English,
  • making contacts and friends in their local community, and
  • find out about additional help and support available to them

LASSN’s volunteers are matched with a refugee or migrant and meet up with them for a couple of hours each week, building a relationship with them, and encouraging them to try new things.

Volunteers receive training tailored to their role and receive on-going support from the Volunteers Manager.

Connecting Opportunities works with new migrants to develop their skills and opportunities to find work and be part of the local community. Connecting Opportunities is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Connecting Opportunities
It’s been great fun, and a learning and rewarding experience for me. The training sessions really helped me feel confident about what I’m doing, and the LASSN team are really encouraging and always there for support. I’ve had such a positive experience on every step of my befriending journey, I’d recommend it to anyone!

Contact Information

Riley Coles

Volunteers Manager: Emily Stevenson
07927 115 574

General Enquiries: Connecting Opportunities

What makes this different to LASSN’s other befriending project?

This project works exclusively with refugees and other migrants who have a right to work in the UK and is focused on helping people build their confidence and skills to get into work.

We recently delivered a short presentation on how we do Mentoring and Befriending at LASSN, and to help our Connecting Opportunities partners think through how they might approach it.

In particular we were keen to show how our way of doing Mentoring and Befriending mesh with our values.

If you’d like to learn more about how we do mentoring and befriending at LASSN, have a look at this short presentation.

I want to refer someone

What difference does Connecting Opportunities make?

I want to volunteer

The difference it makes

I’m Lina. I’m Egyptian. I have been in the UK since 2014. I came first to North Wales. I stayed 2.5 years there. I felt so lonely. I didn’t know anybody there. Nobody asked about me. I felt very depressed.

After this my husband came to Leeds and started a new job – I was pregnant so I was busy. When my little one entered the school I heard about this project by luck from the mother of my daughter’s friend.

From this moment the sun started to shine. I started to see and recognise new people. I started to make friends. I went to the café for ‘Tea & Talk’.

Connecting Opportunities has helped me a lot as well during lockdown. We talk every week for 2 hours in our ‘Tea & Talk’ online group. It’s very helpful to have 2 hours just to myself, taking a break from my life and my children. We talk about everything, and it increases my knowledge about lots of things in the UK. We choose a topic and talk together so it’s a good chance to improve my language and vocabulary. The most beautiful thing about it is that these conversations stopped my feelings of loneliness. I felt that I’m lonely and very bored during the lockdown. This feeling decreases when chatting with my friends in conversation.

It’s a good chance to make friends and be friendly. It’s a good chance to know new places in Leeds and speak English without any fears, which will lead to in the future being able to speak fluently. It’s a good chance to build my confidence as well. I also started an English course to improve my language and got a Befriender with LASSN. The project helped me a lot and really changed my life.

Many thanks to The project and The conversation.

“My befriendees and I have a great time together and it is a superb feeling to help some one make a new life in our city.”
“I find befriending really enjoyable, sometimes a bit challenging and I learn a great deal.”
“The opportunity of meeting people from different backgrounds and helping them in whatever capacity you can guided by LASSN.”
“Since first contacting LASSN with a view to volunteering I have been struck by the helpful and supportive approach of all the people who work there and how quickly you are made to feel a part of the organisation.”
“The opportunity to build a relationship with and support my befriendee has been invaluable for me. I have learnt so much and grown as a person as a result. Everyone at LASSN is so supportive too.”
“I feel honoured to be part of such a fabulous charity.”
“I feel LASSN is doing immensely valuable work and I want to be able to contribute to that work.”
“The staff are absolutely great and give me the confidence and resources I need.”
“I feel like I’m making a real difference to people, and all of the work is so well informed and ethical.”
“Feeling useful; helping people in need; supporting a really important frontline area of work; meeting amazing people.”

Achievements in 2020/21

39 volunteers supported 76 people who wanted to move closer to work or study

30% of all CO volunteers are themselves from migrant backgrounds

Weekly Tea & Talk conversation groups met both online and offline, and were facilitated by 7 group facilitators, who lifted the spirits of 27 people during lockdown

1:1 Befriending took place primarily online and enabled refugees and migrants to: continue improving their English throughout lockdown, stay informed onrestrictions and health related guidance, feel emotionally supported during a difficult period, and build their confidence by making plans for the future

Women centred ways of working has led to various women’s only spaces being created online. These include: the Tea & Talk Women’s Group – a space for women to practice English and build confidence; wellbeing sessions such as Mindful Movement and Yoga; and creative activities such as Photography and Poetry sessions, which have helped women to connect with one another despite lockdown restrictions

14 people have taken part in the Bike Buddies project, by attending Bike Ability training, attending a bike ride or receiving a bike and safety equipment

Phone credit expenses were offered to all befrienders, befriendees and group attendees, and laptops were provided to volunteers who needed them

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volunteer mentors were matched with…

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refugees and migrants

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conversation groups