For Daniel Debessai the journey from Eritrea to the UK didn’t end at the border, he has had to work hard to navigate a life for himself in the UK. Olivia Blair spoke to Daniel about his journey so far.
Daniel arrived in the UK in 2008, leaving behind a job as a statistician. He then undertook a second degree (he already held one in Statistics and Demography from Eritrea). He embarked upon a Mathematics and Statistics degree at Kingston University, London and graduated in 2012.
However after graduating, despite having two degrees, Daniel found it difficult to get a graduate job and was unemployed for about six months. He believes that there was a lack of professional help from the job centre and that employers often lacked knowledge about refugee status; that being that individuals with this status have full right to work in the UK without immigration restrictions.
This was until a friend, also from Eritrea, put him in touch with Sheila Heard. Sheila is the managing director of Transitions-London, a not-for-profit careers and employment organisation who specialise in placing highly-skilled refugees into work. Transitions’ clients include the national grid, crossrail, KPMG and British Red Cross. Daniel says Transitions helped him by providing services such as help with writing tailored-CVs, assisting with application forms and conducting mock interviews.
Daniel finally found employment as a graduate trainee at the FDM group, an IT consultancy company and has been there for 11 months. Daniel enjoys his job: “I’m very busy Monday to Friday but I like to be busy, I know what it’s like to be unemployed and I wouldn’t want to feel like that again,” he said.
How does working in Eritrea compare to the UK? “It is completely different”, Daniel says, “At first it was very difficult [to adjust] but not any more, all of the people [at work] have been very helpful so there are no problems… I’m really enjoying living and working in the UK.”
Daniel praises Transitions for their “excellent work” adding that in his opinion “they are the only social enterprise who understand professional refugees’ problems”. Daniel advises other refugees who may be finding it hard to get work to “keep their morale high and work harder and they will definitely get there”.
For more information on Transitions work, visit their website.