REFUGEES are being offered the chance to "feel part of society again" thanks to a new partnership between two charities and furniture giant Ikea.

More than 200 people who have fled war, terror, violence and persecution will have the chance of employment thanks to the scheme run with the Scottish Refugee Council and the Refugee Council.

In a partnership announced as part of Refugee Festival Scotland and Refugee Week, participants in the scheme will be paid at Living Wage and have the chance to earn permanent jobs.

Sabir Zazai, CEO of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We work with people every day who are desperately keen to get back into paid work and to feel part of society again.

"Teachers, lawyers, architects, business people who struggle to get their professional experience and qualifications recognised here.

"We’re grateful to Ikea for coming to us with this opportunity.

"These paid placements allow people with different career backgrounds the chance to try out new roles and see how transferable their skills are and, crucially, being paid, means people feel valued and recognised for their contribution.

"Working and earning a living helps restores confidence and a sense of dignity that may have been affected by experiences of conflict, flight and the asylum system itself.

"When refugees do well we all do well.”

Refugees can access a programme of workshops introducing them to Ikea’s core values, the UK labour market more generally and they also receive support with CV writing, job applications, interview techniques and customer service training.

Longer work placements then enable them to gain work experience at IKEA while developing their English language skills, improving their workplace confidence and becoming an active part of IKEA’s co-worker community.

Refugees who complete the eight-week long placements, which are paid at Living Wage and enable participants to be a part of the IKEA employee rewards scheme, are then awarded an employability skills record to take away for future job applications, with some having the opportunity to land permanent roles at IKEA.

Neda is enjoying her placement at Ikea at Braehead. She said: “The work that Ikea is doing is really great.

"Ikea and Scottish Refugee Council held five days training which was really useful, especially as we come from different backgrounds and languages.

"This helped us prepare for our interviews and the placement. Another good thing is that the work placement is for eight weeks.

"If it was just a short placement, you might not show yourself at your best, but over eight weeks they have the opportunity to see you grow and learn the language of the business.

"I love my colleagues already and it has really helped me with my confidence.

"And even if at the end of this work placement there is no recruitment I can still put this experience on my CV.

"But fingers crossed they hire me because I love working with Ikea.”

Refugees very often face huge challenges when looking for work in the UK.

Some fled their war-torn home countries before they completed their education.

Others are highly skilled professionals who struggle with having their qualifications recognised in the UK.

For many years both refugee charities have worked with a range of businesses to provide specialist support geared around helping refugees adjust to the UK jobs market, re-start or begin new careers and ultimately become financially independent in their new homes.

Since the beginning of the partnership in April 2021, Ikea has delivered workshops to 23 refugees, resulting in nine work placements at Ikea Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Peterborough and Croydon.

It plans to provide 180 placements over the next three years across at least 12 Ikea stores, focusing on parts of the UK where there are resettled refugee communities.

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer at Ikea UK and IE, said: "At Ikea, we have a huge opportunity to use our world-wide reach, values and vision to continue to create a better everyday life for the many people - especially those who are most vulnerable.

"We firmly believe that supporting refugees isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also good for our business.

"We also know that refugees can bring high levels of resilience, adaptability, problem solving, and entrepreneurship.

"Finding a solution to the migration crisis is a global issue.

"As a large retailer and employer, we have a responsibility to help tackle it."