I sat down with Roger to chat about his role since his first involvement with RETAS as he has had such an interesting journey which I felt was important to share. Roger's journey very much mirrors that of lots of our current and former staff members, many of whom began as volunteers and progressed through various roles. Equally, many of our current and former staff have themselves been through the asylum process and been service users at RETAS which we feel adds a crucial perspective and contribution to the way in which we carry out our services.
How long have you worked at RETAS? And during this time how has your role changed?
"I have been part of RETAS since it was established in 2002, by Tiffy Allen, in a range of different capacities. I began as a service user and then proceeded to volunteer with service users and as a trustee, work as an adviser and act as deputy director before assuming the role of CEO as I am today."
How has RETAS developed and expanded since you first joined?
"RETAS started with just 2 staff and was a small team for some time. It started as a division of the London-based Education Action International before becoming independent in 2007 as Refugee Education Training Advice Service. We have had various fluctuations in funding but I am proud to say that we are in a strong position at the moment."
What is your proudest moment from working at RETAS?
"That's a very difficult question! My proudest moment working at RETAS would have to be helping to rebuild and revive RETAS from a stage where we struggled with funding. I am proud to have guided a young and dynamic team over the last two years, especially as recruiting the right people can be really challenging.
I am also generally proud that welcome is at the heart of everything that RETAS does and that as such our doors are always open."
What is one hope for RETAS in the next few months?
"I hope that RETAS sustains what it has built recently and continues to expand in the way it has been. My dream is to expand not just within Leeds but wider in the region."
Interview conducted by Georgia Ellis, Social Media Officer
Established in 2002, RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service) has a vision to see all refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants to feel welcome and supported to fully integrate into society.
We provide assistance with access to education, re-qualification, training and employment to help them better integrate in their communities. We strive to build confidence and hope in our service users, and empower them to build a safe and secure life here in the UK.
233-237 Roundhay Road
The Roundhay Road Resource Centre
Leeds, LS8 4HS