FAST Beginnings is a community integration project for refugees and asylum seekers. Local people who have settled successfully train as PWAs specialising in supporting their peers. They complete a 60hr training programme. There is a 30 hr volunteer induction programme with the wider PWA volunteers. A further 30hr specialist programme with input from MCC, Refugee Action, Manchester Refugee Support Network and The Greater Manchester Law Centre covers:
Citizenship and Integration
Transforming community approaches.
The project offers further accreditation through supervised online courses: Diversity and Social Justice in Social Work; The Universal Declaration of Human Right; Gender and Sexuality - Applications in Society.
To engage with vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, PWAs offer culturally-sensitive friendship and welcome, bi-lingual practical help e.g. emergency funds and integration into social environments. They collectively run 2 drop-in sessions/week which help refugees and asylum seekers to understand their rights and responsibilities, access the legal support they need and form a campaigning body to challenge injustices. As part of the provision PWAs provide access to 6hrs/wk of ESOL and the basic computer courses at FAST.