Derby College Group (DCG) has become just the fourth in the UK to be awarded College of Sanctuary status in recognition of the support it provides to the asylum and refugee community in the city.
DCG is one of only two education providers in Derbyshire to be recognised by Derby City of Sanctuary which is an umbrella group of organisations working to create a climate of welcome and safety for asylum seekers and refugees in the city.
The College was presented with a certificate at an online awards ceremony attended by representatives from organisations involved in Derby City of Sanctuary including the Mayor of Derby Cllr Frank Harwood.
DCG Advanced Practitioner Diana Smith outlined work undertaken by the college to ensure that young people and adults alike who are seeking asylum from violence and persecution were welcomed, valued and empowered.
DCG has developed specific study programmes for young people and adults who are new arrivals in the city which are based at main college sites including the Roundhouse and in the community at the St James’ Centre and Southgate Business Centre.
Students also benefit from a wide range of enrichment activities including annual projects with Derby Book Festival where they write short stories and poems which recount, amongst others, their arduous journeys to the UK in books which are published and sold.
She also highlighted the ongoing work to raise awareness amongst the wider college community of what it means to be seeking sanctuary.
Diana said: “Having been recognised as a College of Sanctuary, we will continue to build on making our college a place of safety and learning for people from all over the world.”
Jennifer Rehman, Assistant Principal of Adult and Community Education, continued: “Our work with the asylum and refugee communities fits with our overall mission to prepare students for the next stage of their lives.
“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive college which champions social mobility and our ESOL and Lexis staff are committed to ensuring that young people and adults alike from these communities have the same opportunities to progress as all of our students.”
Adult student Bahareh Naghipouran who came to the UK from Iran is learning English at the St James’ Centre in Rosehill.
She has also been recruited to be part of the college’s Digital Advocates programme to test and feedback on new and improved ways to develop virtual learning both in the classroom and remotely.
She said: “It is particularly good to have the opportunity to work alongside people from many different countries and nationalities. We all accept each other and take time to learn about each other’s cultures.”
Andrew Jackson, chair of Derby City of Sanctuary congratulated DCG on the recognition.
“Derby College is committed to being a safe and welcome place and to ensuring the wider community appreciates what it means to be seeking sanctuary.”
This was echoed by Derby City of Sanctuary Trustee Joseph Chivayo who said: “It is marvellous that Derby College has taken the initiative to be part of this initiative and is one of the lead colleges in the country to provide a place of sanctuary for people to learn and rebuild their lives.”