Our Award Winning ESOL Group!


The winners of the Siân Thomason Award for 2018 have been announced as Mohammed Taame, Fouad Al Khatib, Ramez Youssef and Hassan Al Jammal from Ystradgynlais.

This group of learners originate from war-torn Syria and were resettled in Ystradgynlais with their own and other families. Their story demonstrates the commitment they have made to their learning, in order to overcome significant barriers to community integration and employment.

In Syria these learners had jobs, careers and businesses, but on arriving in Wales had to start all over again. They spoke little or no English and were recovering from a distressing situation in their own country.

The trauma and displacement they had endured had left them with very little apart from each other. Despite this situation, the learners were determined to succeed.

They all attended ESOL classes with Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales which helped to build their confidence and language skills.Their aim was to learn English, secure employment and integrate within the local community.

It was important for them to gain independence and security for themselves and their families. In addition, they have also engaged with their local library where they have also developed IT skills.

Since starting the classes, the learners have actively participated in local community activities and volunteering in a local recycling centre. They act as ambassadors for Syrian nationals and interact with the local community engaging in family activities, with local schools and continually seek opportunities to use their new language skills.

They have all applied for driving licenses with Hassan already passing his theory test through the medium of English.

The support that the learners have received from the local community has been widespread in no small part due to their positive interaction with members of the community. They have also used their learning to help offer support to others who are in a similar situation and to ensure the integration of their children in local schools.

ESOL tutor Amel Cherif commented ‘their desire to further their education and achieve employment has been commendable’. She continues, ‘these learners are a shining example of how courage and self-belief, with the good will and help of a supportive community like Ystradgynlais can bring such devastated families back to a life that is positive and hopeful and has much promise for the future’.

The learning that these individuals have undertaken has helped to improve their confidence, independence and ability to make decisions. It has also helped to prepare for opportunities of employment and gaining the skills required to engage with employers.

We wish Mohammed, Fouad, Ramez and Hassan continued success with their learning and future employment – they are a source of inspiration to others, proving that they can overcome adversity by sheer hard work and determination to succeed. Truly deserving winners of this award.

Watch the Group's story here.

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