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City of Sanctuary supports Refugee Action’s new campaign “Let Refugees Learn”


Nearly three quarters of UK people think refugees learning English is beneficial to Britain, but 55 per cent cuts to funding for English language classes since 2008/09 mean that refugees are struggling to access the classes they need to help rebuild their lives.

Those are the findings of a new report and poll by national charity Refugee Action, calling on the government to ensure a proper English language strategy for England is put in place, and invest the funds needed to ensure that refugees are given quick access to English classes.

Refugee Action’s report Let Refugees Learn  clearly highlights the desire and determination among refugees to learn English. It shows that without exception, refugees want to learn English because they want to live independently and self-sufficiently.


All of those interviewed see learning the language as a vital first step in rebuilding their lives; enabling them to do every-day tasks like paying bills and talking to their doctor as well as helping them to access the job market and contribute to their local communities. And the British public agree, saying that among the most important benefits refugees will be better able to integrate, work, make a living and pay taxes.

We in CoS know the difficulties for asylum seekers whose subsistence allowance doesn’t allow for bus fares or English as a Second or Other (ESOL) classes and we offer free classes via volunteers across the network. See our ESOL streams page for links to teaching resources.


City of Sanctuary supports Refugee Action’s call for the government to act on five essential recommendations:

  1. Create a fund that would give refugees that require English lessons free, accessible English classes for their first two years in England. Our analysis shows this would cost around £1600 per refugee per year and would be effectively reimbursed through taxes within the first 8 months of employment on the national average wage. This would require the Government to invest £47m a year to achieve this goal.
  2. Publish an ESOL strategy for England. This should set national targets for ESOL provision and attainment; and enshrine refugees’ timely access to ESOL as an entitlement
  3. Ensure full and equal access to ESOL, particularly for women. Female refugees’ ability to attend English language classes can be improved ensuring they have access to childcare facilities that will make this possible
  4. Provide asylum seekers with the right to access free English language classes
  5. Facilitate a national framework for community based language support

We in CoS plan to work closely with Refugee Action to engage activists and ESOL teachers with the campaign and to encourage more community based English classes.

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, says: “Refugees see English as absolutely essential to settling in Britain, becoming part of their new communities and finding work. Our government must let refugees learn. This will not only benefit them, it will benefit Britain.”

For more information on this campaign and to read the report, please visit:

Please help us to spread the word for the campaign. See our Facebook posts and here are some suggested tweets.

Hashtag – #LetRefugeesLearn

Why it is important for refugees to learn English?  @refugeeaction new campaign #LetRefugeesLearn explains  (character count 128)

. @refugeeaction want you to take action to ensure that refugees have access to English Classes #LetRefugeesLearn (character count 134)

Support refugees to get the English classes they need with @refugeeaction #LetRefugeesLearn (character count 116)

Support @refugeeaction campaign to make sure that refugees can get English classes #LetRefugeesLearn (character count 124)

Latest report from @refugeeaction highlights crisis in availability of English classes for refugees. #LetRefugeesLearn (character count 139)