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

LASSN support lots of women who have had extremely successful careers in their home countries, and have impressive educational qualifications.

Our Tea and Talk Women’s Group have members who been doctors, pharmacists, dentists, engineers, and teachers – to name but a few. However, many migrant women lack the confidence to pursue their career in the UK, or face various barriers when doing so.

With this in mind LASSN worked with a Career Coach to run the ‘Building Career Confidence’ programme for women on Connecting Opportunities.

In the first workshop the women drew a ‘Successful timeline’ which helped them to think about transferable skills and strengths gained from their various life experiences. In the second workshop the group looked at practical steps they could take to move forward in their career, and also did some interview practice in pairs.

The programme was a huge success, with the women leaving the programme feeling more confident, empowered and optimistic about the future.   

“The workshop gave us the chance to talk with confidence in front of everyone and share our negative and positive experience. I felt like we had a therapy session because we talked about the problems, challenges, and obstacles we face in our life and how we manage to overcome and succeed to reach our objectives. This made us proud of ourselves and feel happy and satisfied. We learnt, as well, all the good tips and ideas which will help us to trace our future career”.  

“I’ve realised that we can learn something from any moment in life, which makes us to be better”

“I liked sharing and listening to other ladies’ stories and feel not alone. It let us remember and be proud of ourselves”

“It made us have a more clear vision about our future”

“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 2021/22

39 volunteers supported 75 people who wanted to move closer to work or study 

25% of all CO volunteers are themselves from migrant backgrounds

Weekly Tea & Talk conversation groups met in a cafe in Leeds, and took social trips to places like Meanwood Farm and Leeds University Art Gallery

1:1 Befriending took place both on and offline and enabled refugees and migrants to do things like: make GP appointments, improve computer skills at local One Stop centres; understand UK laws (eg Highway Code, Safeguarding Children); get a library card and visit the library for the first time; find and join an affordable gym; apply for social housing; prepare for a job interview; learn to ride a bike

Women centred ways of working have continued to be a focus; including: the Tea & Talk Women’s Group – a space for women to practice English and build confidence; work focused activities such as “Exploring future careers” and “Building career confidence”; and group activities for families in the school holidays

 Partnerships have been made with organisations such as the Highrise Project, who delivered Photography Walks to Connecting Opportunities participants; Cycling UK who provided ‘Cycle for Health’ sessions; and with Leeds University, whose students worked on an ‘Access Education’ project to support refugees into Higher Education

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volunteer mentors were matched with…

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refugees and migrants

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conversation groups