Helping hand for Ukrainian refugees
AA Charitable trust releases more funds providing free driving lessons
The AA Charitable Trust has announced a second round of funding. It provides free driving refresher courses for Ukrainian refugees.
These courses are delivered either online via a Drivetech e-learning module in or in-car by the AA Driving School and BSM. They aim to help refugees acclimatise to driving on UK roads.
Online or on the road
In-car courses provide refugees who are qualified drivers, one two-hour ‘Drive Confident’ session. These are about bringing them up to speed with UK roads and giving them confidence to find independence on the road.
Covering road markings, signs, roundabouts, the lesson can be tailored to the needs of the individual.
For those who refer to assimilate to the UK road system more slowly there is an online course. Developed by Drivetech, it has been translated into Ukrainian and covers all the essentials of driving in the UK, from smart motorways to parking advice.
“We were amazed by the level of interest from refugees and their hosts,” says Edmund King OBE, AA president and director of the AA Charitable Trust. “We opened the initial round of applications for free 2-hour driving refresher sessions in late March.”
So far more than 100 Ukrainian refugees have undertaken the course. As word spreads, interest is increasing and demand rising.
“We hope these courses will help Ukrainians in some small way to adjust to life in the UK,” adds King.
The response has been enthusiastic so far , both in the driving seat and in the passenger seat.
“Our driving instructors have responded so positively,” states Mark Oakley, CEO of the AA Driving School and BSM.
“The feedback we have had from participants has shown just how valuable practical help like this is.
“Being able to get about independently, safely and confidently has a huge impact on someone’s ability to build a life and we are really pleased to have been able to help.”
Instructor case study
Ian Jones, 53, from Benfleet in Essex, has been an AA instructor for two years.
“Having never dealt with a scheme like this before I guess I was feeling as anxious as the student, not knowing what to expect.”
He’s been teaching a Ukrainian refugee recently who has been in the UK since February with her son.
“We had a couple of challenges to overcome, the car itself, the UK roads and lastly the language barrier! Olga’s English was very good, and we quickly worked out how we were going to communicate what was needed to get through the session. Like all new starters, we went through the car controls etc, then off to some quieter roads to start. It wasn’t long before we started out covering junctions and onto roundabouts with some help of my bad drawings and many arrows and lines on the AA presenter. A little different to at home, but again Olga took it in her stride.
“Although this was only a short taster session, she was kind enough to say that it had helped her become less concerned about driving in the UK, and she was a lot more relaxed about it. I enjoyed the experience and hope that I can help others in the same way should the need arise.”
The AA and AA Trust are working alongside Emma Sinclair MBE who is co-ordinating businesses in their response to the refugee crisis.
Emma Sinclair MBE, CEO EnterpriseAlumni said: “It has been uplifting but not surprising to witness the ground swell of support from business and business leaders”.
This type of support “helps refugees resettle and find meaningful employment commensurate with their experience,” says Emma.
She believes this type of reimagined support is key for benefitting everyone involved. It helps with language, employment and resettlement skills.
“The AA’s Drive Confident scheme for Ukrainians is one such example”.
“Everyone is pitching in,” adds Emma. “I believe this will offer dignity to those arriving here, pride to the British public and benefit to the UK economy. It’s a win for everyone“.