“Veterans always pull together to look after one and other, and to me these former ‘terps are very much a part of our community. They are very entitled to our support.”
JobOppO’s Garrath Williams has had unfinished business since he left Afghanistan in 2010 and that’s why he quickly offered to help former Afghan interpreters and other Locally Employed Civilians who’d risked their lives supporting British troops.
Newly arrived Afghans are being offered vital employment support thanks to JobOppO’s AfghanOppOs Programme. Veteran’s Employment Community JobOppO have teamed up with the Sulha Alliance and select employment partners including Whitbread Group and Asda.
More than 30 former interpreters registered with JobOppO employability programme in its launch week, with many taking advantage of the employability skills workshop being offered by a small group of volunteers. Support for the candidates’ cultural, welfare and religious needs is also offered.
A veteran of the British and Australian Army, Garrath said: “We want to give them access to the same opportunities veterans have – they’ve served alongside our soldiers so they should get the same support.
This simple programme means former Afghan interpreters will get assistance with employability skills and employment opportunities, alongside advice, support and a general arm around their shoulder.”
AfghanOppOs are given access to JobOppO’s jobs board and their new Employability Skills Development Series, both normally exclusive to ex-military personnel. Concurrently, the AfghanOppOs are introduced to the empathetic recruitment teams at the partner employers, who have demonstrated their shared values by offering to become involved with the project.
While employability and employment is where JobOppO hope they can offer the most impact, they also appreciate the cultural and welfare challenges these Afghans face so have encouraged Iman Asif Hafiz (the Imam to the UK Armed Forces) to offer advice to the new prospective employers.
JobOppO also recently introduced Matt Simmons to some of those registered on the AfghanOppOs programme. Matt runs Ems4Afghans who provide welfare care packs to Afghan families, and they have been working closely with several local authorities and other veteran groups to do so. RAF Veteran Matt said:
“It was perfectly fitting for JobOppO to offer employment support to those who had worked alongside the British military and were subsequently evacuated from Afghanistan. The speed they have pulled this together is extraordinary!”
Founder of the OppO Group Kayam Iqbal, an RAF veteran and linguist who served in Afghanistan and spent much of that alongside Afghan interpreters said: “as soon as Garrath had the idea I knew it was the right thing to do. He’s pulled it together so quickly and it’s been great to see large national employers getting on board – for the right reasons. The whole team are committed to doing our bit to make a better life for people.”
Sahib M, a former British Army Interpreter and one of the beneficiaries of the programme, said: “I would like to thank my friends at JobOppO who have supported me and helped me since we arrived in the UK a few weeks ago.
“I want to get a job and settle into a good life in England and Garrath and JobOppO will help me do this.”
Whitbread’s Head of Resourcing Lisa Taylor said: “We’re delighted to get behind JobOppO to help them support former Afghan interpreters and other civilians start their new lives positively.
“Being a force for good in the communities we run our hotels and restaurants in is really important to us and as a diverse employer we are always looking for new ways to welcome a variety of talent to the Whitbread family, so this partnership really is a win-win all-round.”
Sulha Alliance quote: “We are full of gratitude and in awe of the extra special energy and commitment JobOppO have put into helping former Afghan interpreters find meaningful employment.
“The community are excited about being able to thrive by contributing to the British economy and providing for their families. We are enormously grateful for the opportunities being made available.” Ed Aitkin, Army veteran and co-founder of the Sulha Alliance
According to The Sulha Alliance, during the British military involvement in Afghanistan some 7,000 locally employed civilians supported operations in some capacity, such as interpreters or guards.
These civilians – especially interpreters – are seen as a priority target by the Taliban and face significant threats to their safety if they remain in the country.
The Sulha Alliance has worked with Afghan interpreters for many years, supporting their resettlement in the UK and integration into British Society.