Work placement scheme helps boost refugee's confidence.

A refugee has praised the help she received getting back into work after fleeing Afghanistan – having secured a part-time position at IKEA.

Farzanah Kakar, who moved to the UK in November 2021, joined the furniture giant’s refugee work placement scheme thanks to support from the Strategic Migration Partnership’s Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration (WW4RI) project, the Refugee Council and her Essex Integration Employment Adviser.

A keen football player who has a certificate in coaching, Farzanah says she is on the lookout for a team to play with here in the UK.

Farzanah, who now lives in Purfleet in Essex and was a medical teacher in her home country, said she really enjoys working for IKEA and the interaction with colleagues and customers is helping to improve her English.

“The work placement was for 20 hours a week and I now work as a cashier.  I really enjoy working with IKEA,” she said.

“One day a week I go to Southwark college in London for a functional skills course to improve my English. I then look to study and take my GCSEs.

“In Afghanistan when you study English, you learn American English, so sometimes people don’t understand what I am saying here in the UK.

“Working at IKEA has really helped me improve my English language skills, speaking to customers and people who work there.”

The IKEA work placement scheme is run through the Refugee Council. Farzanah was referred onto the scheme by Essex Integration Employment Adviser for the WW4RI project, Jan Abraham.

Jan said the work placements through IKEA and other businesses in the east of Engand helped boost the confidence of the refugees taking part.

“The scheme has been great, I wish we could have something similar set up at more employers,” he said.

“IKEA offer one month paid roles, including training – 24 days in total.  When they finish this work period, two or three people from the group are offered part-time roles at the company.

“Refugees who take part get some brilliant training and it gives them a huge amount of confidence.

“When you come here from another country, you often have lots of skills but don’t know about the job market and what to expect at work.

“With this you get a paid opportunity to learn while you earn.”

Farzanah said she really appreciated the support Jan, the Refugee Council and the WW4RI had provided.

“When I came to the UK I didn’t have a CV.  Jan helped me prepare a CV and has helped me with my online documents too.

“I appreciate everything he has done – he has really helped me.”

For more on the WW4RI project, visit Well being and Work for Refugee Integration Project-EELGA SMP – EELGA SMP