We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new PATHS for the Future programme!
At RUN, we’re most known for our sports programmes that offer vulnerable refugees, particularly women, the opportunity to rehabilitate and recuperate, but just as important is our education programme, because learning new skills and developing professionally means that our refugee participants can ultimately build a better future for themselves and their families.
In 2018, our participants had tremendous success through our pilot education programme: 22 participants earned an impressive 44 online education certificates from top universities around the world in 2018, six were certified as caregivers in Hong Kong, and four participated in a creative technologist programme and gained new skills in woodwork, laser cutting, and metal work. In addition, four participants obtained exceptional authorisation to work in Hong Kong* and have received job placements with our partners in the corporate community.
Building on this initial success, PATHS for the Future expands access to education so that every adult RUN participant can exercise their mind, just as they are exercising their bodies. PATHS focuses on the following five pillars:
- Professional Development – We prepare participants with the professional skills needed to enter the workforce, including CV writing, interview preparation, and presentation skills
- Access to Education – We provide access to quality education for our adult participants through a combination of in-person and online classes
- Training and Service – We offer hands-on training and service opportunities to give back to the local community
- Help and Mentorship – Along with professionals from the business community, we mentor participants to help them achieve their educational and professional goals
- Skill Building – We develop our participants’ technical skills and soft skills such as attitude, communication, critical thinking, work ethic, and teamwork
The launch of PATHS also coincides with new efforts to strengthen international support for refugees and the countries who host them, known as the UN Global Compact on Refugees. PATHS directly supports three of the key objectives as outlined in the Compact to:
- Ease pressure on host countries by supporting exceptional authorisation for refugees to work in Hong Kong and demonstrating to the government the positive outcomes of granting right to work, such as decreasing reliance on government handouts and closing the skills gap for employers;
- Enhance refugee self-reliance by supporting refugees with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to access meaningful work in Hong Kong* or in their future country of resettlement so that they can support themselves and their families; and
- Expand access to third-country solutions – as only 1% of refugees worldwide will be resettled by the UN, equipping refugees with professional skills and demonstrating potential for self-reliance improves their chances of resettlement in a third country through community-based private sponsorship.
Adam**, a refugee participant who was resettled to Canada in 2018 says: “RUN prepared me for my resettlement. I was part of the education programme, and it forced me to think ahead and prepare myself for my future. As refugees, we often only think about food and housing as surviving here is so difficult, but we need to look ahead and be ready for a new life so that we do not waste time when we are resettled.”
To support PATHS, we are delighted partner with British Council to offer English classes for our participants. We also welcomed two new part-time hires to RUN team this year, Raymond Cheng and Tom Walsh, who will provide ongoing high quality IT classes and additional English classes to participants, so that they can have a solid foundation that enables them to take full advantage of other learning opportunities.
We are also excited to continue to partner with the business community to provide professional skills building and volunteer mentors for our participants. In 2018, we participated in the LinkedIn Coaches programme, which empowers job seekers facing barriers to grow their careers and expand their networks. Through a series of workshops, our refugee participants learned about presentation skills – whether through their online profiles or in interviews. Maria**, a refugee from East Africa, says: “The LinkedIn Coaches programme has helped us refugees set up LinkedIn accounts and is now training us with interview skills. Although we are not allowed to work in Hong Kong, it helps us to project ourselves into a professional environment and identify the skills on which we need to work through RUN’s education programme.”
Over the coming few months, we’ll be sharing more with you about our programme and the accomplishments of our refugee participants. Stay tuned!
* Refugees are generally not permitted to work in Hong Kong, but we have received extensive legal advice from human rights and immigration lawyer Mark Daly about obtaining exceptional authorisation to work from the Director of Immigration in Hong Kong on a case-by-case basis. We are currently working with the corporate community to help facilitate exceptional employment for some refugees.
** Names have been changed