A REFUGEE from Iraq who dreams of putting his nursing skills to use in the UK has won a national award for his dedication to English studies.

Hasan Jasim arrived in Britain in 2018, speaking no English, having fled Iraq five years earlier.

After dedicating himself to learning the language, he has now been able to get a job, pass his driving test, and feel like part of the Catterick community in which he and his family have settled.

His commitment to learning has meant that in just three years, he’s gone from speaking no English to winning a national award from the Festival of Learning campaign.

In his home country of Iraq, Hasan was a nurse, and he dreams one day of returning to this career.

But work hasn’t been his only motivation for learning English.

Since starting language classes with The Adult Learning and Skills Service run by North Yorkshire County Council in Colburn, Hasan can now read his children’s schoolbooks and help them with homework.

He can also speak to neighbours and family friends.

All this means he’s left behind the isolation he felt when he first arrived in the UK and has a newfound confidence and a sense of belonging.

Hasan said: “When I first came to the UK, I couldn’t understand anything around me, and I wanted to learn English because it’s important for me to be able to communicate.

"I used to be a nurse and my dream is to study at college and pass my exams so that I can do that job again.

"Lockdown has been hard. It’s harder to talk to people and improve my English, but I’ve been using the extra time to study for more exams and I can see myself making progress.

"With each new level I feel more confident and settled, and a step closer towards the job that I love.”

Catherine Monaghan, Hasan’s teacher, said: “Hasan’s commitment to studying has been unquestionable and unwavering, and his progress is the result of hours of focus and hard work."

Hasan inspires others through the example he sets, and as new refugees arrive in the area, I feel certain that he will take on a new role as mentor and advocate for the value of learning English in order to integrate into a new country, culture and society.”

The Festival of Learning is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England.

The campaign, which has been running since 1992, is led by the Learning and Work Institute and supported by the Department for Education.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, said: “Hasan was motivated to improve his English to help support his family, but the impacts of his learning have gone far beyond this.

"Hasan’s story demonstrates the importance and impact of access to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision, and he continues to inspire many others in his community to learn.

"We are delighted to give this award to Hasan.

"Festival of Learning awards celebrate the commitment and achievements of outstanding adult learners, tutors, learning provision and employers.

"These stories show us how transformative lifelong learning can be for individuals, families, communities and society.

"As we look to build back better after the pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to widen access to lifelong learning."

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