First Ukrainian refugee enrols at Blackpool college after fleeing Russian invasion

A 26-year-old man has become the first Ukrainian refugee to sign up for a course at Blackpool and the Fylde College as he hopes to learn English to better communicate with the family who welcomed him into their home.

By Wes Holmes
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:30 pm
Vlad has become Blackpool and the Fylde College's first Ukrainian refugee student

Vlad, who is now living in Poulton with Max Fox after fleeing his war-hit homeland, has enrolled on one of the college’s free English courses to help him integrate into the wider community and find work here.

Usually, people coming into the UK must wait at least three years to be eligible for free courses, but the rules have now been waived, meaning Ukrainian refugees can get funding for courses as soon as they arrive.

Linda Smith, head of management information and funding at the college, said: “We are aiming to provide as much support as possible for those who have been forced to leave the Ukraine and who want to make the most of the educational opportunities on offer here. And that doesn’t just include learning English.

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"We understand that many refugees will already have qualifications from Ukrainian institutions and we are anxious to help them make the most of these by providing extra support as and when we can and by offering them the opportunity to progress their education whilst they are resident here.”

The English curriculum at the Seasiders Learning Centre, on Sands Way, Blackpool, is managed by Alina Prylipko, who herself fled Ukraine in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimea.

She aims to provide information about what the college has to offer, and has been helping people to enrol on the English language courses through a community hub.

Career advice sessions are planned to offer ‘highly qualified’ refugees the opportunity to find work or retrain while they are living in the UK.

She said: “Blackpool and the Fylde College is exceptionally well-placed to support refugees not only in terms of providing them with key language skills but also with the wealth of employment-focussed courses they have to offer.

“Whilst none of this changes what’s happening in Ukraine right now, having so much support, seeing that people really care and encouraging refugees to integrate into the local community makes a world of difference to people who have potentially lost everything.”

People who have entered the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme or Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme will be able to access fully funded training.

Students aged 19 and above will also receive a free bus pass and food vouchers if they can show they have applied for Universal Credit.

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