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Whitbread is backing employment to support Afghan Interpreters

3 Nov 2021 Brand

Partnership will give jobs boost and integration support to Afghan interpreters.

Whitbread, the UK’s biggest hotel owner, is joining forces with JobOppO, a veterans’ employment community which supports the ex-military community in the UK (founded by ex-military, to serve ex-military).

The partnership is part of Whitbread’s Force for Good strategy to enable people to live and work well.

It will see newly arrived Afghans offered vital employment support. This programme means that former Afghan interpreters will get assistance with employability skills and employment opportunities, alongside advice, support and a general arm around their shoulder.

More than 30 former interpreters registered with JobOppO employability programme in its launch week, with many taking advantage of services including an employability skills workshop being offered by a small group of volunteers. Support for the candidates’ cultural, welfare and religious needs is also offered.

Veteran’s Employment Community JobOppO have teamed up with the Sulha Alliance, a not-for profit who facilitate the relocation and resettlement of former Afghan Interpreters, campaigning to get them out of Afghanistan and supporting their resettlement in the UK.  These two like-minded organisations are enabling Afghans registered with them to find employment or training opportunities at select partner employers like Whitbread.

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, including Whitbread, 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.

Garrath Williams, JobOppO’s Director of Veteran Engagement and Development 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. We are thrilled the team from Whitbread have been so supportive and look forward to developing the relationship and seeing our AfghanOppOs flourish here in the UK.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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