Afghan women adapt to life in Leicester

Many of the women are learning how to hold a pen for the first time. Credit: ITV News Central

A group of Afghan women, who were forced to flee the Taliban, are being taught how to hold a pen for the very first time in their lives.

It's part of a pioneering new project funded by the University of Leicester.

The group arrived in Leicester last summer and they say their lives have been transformed by the Bright Path Futures project.

It not only teaches the women how to read, write and speak in English but also provides them with a space to express themselves, socialise and build new relationships.

The project is funded by the University of Leicester’s English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) which is working in partnership with the British Red Cross.

Speaking through an interpreter, one of the women told ITV News Central "I am happy about my kid, my kid can go to school and I am living in peace, it is good to be in peace."

"I'm so proud, they are doing well" says Jos Razell, who is the Lead Facilitator on the Bright Path Futures Project.

"I remember when we met, people were looking down and not making eye contact" explains Jos, "they couldn't imagine they could learn because they had never been to a classroom, they had never held a pen before."

And it's not just the language barrier that these women have to overcome, they're living in a totally different culture too.

One refugee says "Now we are living here it is important for us to read and write English and study in English. The situation was very bad before we came here."

Tahmina Oria Noori, a volunteer interpreter at the project, adds: "All the ladies are innocent, they don't know anything about here, and struggle with everything in life, they can't even ask for a bottle of water, so everything is difficult for them".

The University of Leicester has been recognised as a university of sanctuary for its support in welcoming refugees into its community since 2019.