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Case Study: Solace Surviving Exile and Persecution

Solace were finalists in the ‘Positive Business Impact’ category of the 2022 Nimble Awards. 

Based in Leeds, the charity has provided therapy and support to refugees and asylum seekers across the Yorkshire and Humber region for over 15 years. The people who Solace work with are often survivors of persecution, many of whom have been traumatised by what they have experienced as they fled to safety in the UK. 

Noticing the elearning opportunity 

As a charity, Solace have a mission to alleviate the suffering of refugees and asylum seekers by providing a range of services including therapeutic interventions and other support. They focus their work on those who are suffering from mental health problems or emotional difficulties.

The team at Solace spotted an opportunity to use some Home Office funding to scale-up their service and reach beyond their local area. The team had a wealth of experience gained from 15 years of direct work, and they used elearning to share this expertise with a new audience of learners. They wanted to create two bespoke elearning courses about understanding the mental health of refugee and asylum seekers and providing therapeutic support.

“We have all this wonderful experience and we wanted everybody to be able to benefit from that”
Ruth, Operations Manager

In their daily lives, refugees and asylum seekers come into contact with professionals in a range of contexts. Solace believe that simple changes can have a huge impact. Their intention with this project is to allow learners from healthcare settings and other organisations to deepen their understanding of the challenges asylum seekers face and the ways they can be supported. By completing this training, individuals can become ‘champions’ of asylum seeker support within their organisation, and suggest simple changes to become a more compassionate and supportive environment. Together, all these small changes can add up, and create a more positive experience for refugees and asylum seekers using essential services across the UK.

“We have high hopes of one day being able to reach all across the UK”
Ruth, Operations Manager

Why Nimble worked

As a condition of the funding, this project had to be up and running in a tight timescale. With just six months to bring the idea to reality, Solace used Nimble Author to build the courses. They were able to quickly create all the content themselves, without needing to go back and forwards with external designers or developers for every edit and change.

“I don’t think we would’ve achieved that if we had done it any other way”
Ruth, Operations Manager

Solace produced a collection of bespoke video content from their team, allowing them to share knowledge and expertise with learners as they might do in a face-to-face training session. They also filmed short interviews with refugees and asylum seekers so that learners can hear the lived experiences of individuals in their own words.

The elearning was created for learners from other organisations outside of Solace. Elearning doesn’t just have to be for internal staff and volunteers; by creating this course Solace targeted new learners from other organisations who can gain awareness and have more skilful interactions with refugees and asylum seekers in the future. This contributes to achieving Solace’s charitable mission.

Seeing the successes

After months of hard work, Solace were ready to release the courses and they were out there for participants to sign up. At the beginning of the project, Solace hoped to see 450 learners sign up over three years. Incredibly, they reached that target within two weeks, and the bookings kept coming! Within a few months they had 1,700 registrations for the two courses combined, a number which far exceeded their expectations and highlighted the need that was being met by the elearning.

Solace have received positive feedback from participants of the course. They have now received requests from larger organisations, such as universities, NHS trusts and local councils, to access the learning. This suggests that there is a desire from those who provide essential services to learn more about how they can best support the wellbeing of refugee and asylum seekers.

Feedback from learners who have completed the course has been very positive and suggests that it has been impactful, with one learner saying “Hearing testimonials from refugees and their experiences were very moving and thought provoking.”

The judges for the Nimble Awards were really impressed by the work the team at Solace did to create the courses, and the impact they have already had, saying this was “a strong submission for a complex project that clearly demonstrates how elearning can have a positive impact across a wide network of learners.”

What next for Solace and elearning

Looking towards the future, a challenge is in keeping up to date with rapidly-changing immigration laws in the UK. As Nimble is a flexible tool, updates to courses can be made quickly and easily in the future if needed.

To find out more about the work of Solace surviving exile and persecution visit their website at https://www.solace-uk.org.uk