Bedford ESOL Advice Service

Well being and Work for Refuges Integration Project Final Evaluation Report - EELGA SMP

We are delighted to share with you today the final evaluation report for Well being and Work for Refugee Integration Project - EELGA SMP. You are welcome to share this information and the report with others to whom it may be interest.


The report published today at demonstrates the importance of employment, language and wellbeing support to refugee integration. Evidence from the Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration (WW4RI) project shows that this support is key to enabling the integration of new arrivals to the UK. The WW4RI project, led by the East of England Local Government Association’s Strategic Migration Partnership (EELGA SMP), provides tailored support to participants across three strands: Employment, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and Skills and Wellbeing. 


The project’s final evaluation report, funded by The Bell Foundation, shows that by supporting ‘facilitators’ of integration, like language skills and cultural understanding, participants are empowered to build ‘social connections’ within the community and with UK institutions. These ‘facilitators’ contribute to the enhanced health and wellbeing of participants, and an increased ability to move into employment – or self-employment - and take greater control over their lives - key indicators of integration.


One participant commented:

“[Without the project] I wouldn’t have applied for a job, I wouldn’t be volunteering, I wouldn’t have been able do a placement or feel confident, or fill out forms, anything.  I wouldn’t have tried. I would have given up; it would be too difficult to do on my own. [The project] made me confident.” 


Speaking about the project’s evaluation, Louise Gooch from EELGA SMP said: “It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated employment advisers, ESOL providers and wellbeing services. They have shown how, with the right kind of support, refugees can secure work that is commensurate with their skills and experience. Employers have told us how much they value their refugee employees and we hope that other parts of the UK will be inspired to create similar projects at a time when the country is welcoming many refugees.


Since April 2020, 993 refugees have received support across the East of England. As part of the project, participants work with a dedicated employment advisor to support their path into work – and in some 80 cases, a business adviser who can help them establish a business. Of the participants surveyed, 88% reported an improvement in their employment skills.


Participants can also attend a range of language and wider skills courses. Almost three-quarters of participants surveyed reported that their language proficiency had improved because of the support they received.


One participant stated that: 

“Speaking English has really helped. I can now communicate fully with others and do things on my own. I can go shopping. I am more confident and do whatever I need to do.” 


Through the project, participants can access targeted wellbeing support, including access to a therapist. In all the wellbeing measures included in the CORE (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation) data, at least half of participants reported an improvement. This includes in areas such as anxiety, unwanted memories and the ability to talk to people. Some participants also reported an improvement in feelings of being safe; they have also been helped with the trauma they experienced prior to arriving in the UK, including lasting effects like nightmares and fear.

Diana Sutton, Director of The Bell Foundation, said: “This report provides a timely insight into the experiences and needs of refugees in the UK. For people arriving in an unfamiliar country, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances, the tailored support can be life-changing.


“Since 2010, the Adult Education Budget has seen a 50 per cent reduction, meaning that for many, access to ESOL has reduced. But as this evaluation, funded by the Foundation, shows us so clearly, by providing support in areas like English language skills, refugees can be empowered to achieve their educational and employment aspirations, and to build important social connections.”


If you would like any more information on WW4RI and the evaluation results, please contact to Louise Gooch,