Gower College Swansea has been officially recognised as a College of Sanctuary, the first FE College in Wales to receive such an accolade.
This honour was given to the College by City of Sanctuary UK, an organisation that is committed to building a culture of safety, opportunity and welcome, especially for those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.
During the assessment process, the College was praised for its commitment to providing a safe, welcoming and accessible place for all learners. Singled out for commendation by the panel were the following points:
- The College’s supportive and encouraging tutors who are receptive and quick to respond to any issues, and who often maintain relationships with students after they have completed their course
- A leadership team who push for positive change
- An ethos of actively sharing good practice not just in Wales but across the UK, and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps
- The College’s key role in supporting learners to continue their studies during the Covid pandemic
- An induction procedure that covers inclusiveness, diversity, values and behaviour
- The development of a Class Representative system and Student Union Management Group, the latter group having set up a verbal agility language exchange and an Islamic faith group
- The fostering of close relationships with external agencies such as Swansea City of Sanctuary, EYST and Schools of Sanctuary and with individuals in the community
- The taking part in charity campaigns such as ‘Walk a Mile in my Shoes’ which highlights the distances walked by those seeking sanctuary
- Working to remove barriers to learning i.e. language or finances
“We are delighted to be have been recognised as a College of Sanctuary,” says Diversity and Enrichment Officer, Paul Vincent. “This highlights all the great work that is done throughout the organisation and, in particular, by our ESOL team at Llwyn y Bryn and the Futures/Reach team who are based at our city centre campus, both of whom deal directly with refugees and asylum seekers and provide an outstanding service to their learners, often going above and beyond what could be reasonably expected in their efforts to help and provide guidance.”
“We are thrilled to award Gower College Swansea as the first College of Sanctuary in Wales,” adds Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer for City of Sanctuary UK. “We are impressed by their longstanding commitment to reducing barriers for people with lived experience of seeking sanctuary and the provision of opportunities to progress onto higher level courses and employment. Their supportive response to students affected by the pandemic was exemplary and we have been able to share their work with colleges across the UK to inform the growing network of colleges committed to our vision for a welcoming UK.”
“Providing a safe and reassuring space for our students is one of our top priorities, and never more so than over the past very difficult 18 months,” says Principal Mark Jones. “And now, at a time when we are hearing such distressing stories coming from across the globe, it is really wonderful news to be recognised as the first FE College of Sanctuary in Wales.
"FE colleges are central institutions in the communities that we serve and the award recognises our intention to welcome everyone as an equal, valued member of the College community – a place of safety and inclusion for all. I would like to thank everyone involved in the assessment process and offer my congratulations too. What a great way to begin a new academic year!”