Fircroft was formally recognised as College of Sanctuary at the start of 2021. Members of staff have shown tremendous effort in creating processes, practices and courses which are inclusive for people of sanctuary seeking background. They have also taken important steps to improve the awareness of their student and staff body about the challenges facing people seeking sanctuary. Their named Sanctuary lead will play a key part in welcoming and supporting students as they settle into the college and the wider community.
As well as its wide range of courses ranging from personal and social development topics to skills for business, Fircroft offers courses specifically for people from new communities including the West Midlands Combined Authority-funded 10 week Free Thinking programme. Free Thinking is for those who have been victims of trauma such as modern slavery or persecution and 2019 saw 12 students coming to the college for the first time, being able to share their stories with each other, learn about different cultures, build their confidence and start planning their next steps. As a residential college with 6 acres of landscaped gardens, this played a large part in the programme, enabling the students to relax and focus on themselves in a peaceful, spacious and aesthetic environment away from their everyday lives.
The college was also part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHLG) Talk English project, a volunteer-led programme offering free English language lessons that followed the successful completion of an ESOL teacher training programme for 440 people ending in 2019.
Me Lenehan, Principal and CEO says: “We would like to thank the City of Sanctuary for their support and we view the award of College of Sanctuary as a big endorsement of our commitment to social justice and firm belief in the power of lifelong learning in helping to transform lives. We are really looking forward to further developing our curriculum in this area and welcoming wider members of the community onto our courses”.
Fircroft is looking forward to an award ceremony later in the year which will bring the community together to celebrate Sanctuary.
Like Fircroft, many colleges all over the country are committing to Sanctuary Principles and recognising the important role they play in ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers can continue their education journeys and to reach their full potential.