Supporting refugees and vulnerable people back into work

Providing support for Bristol’s vulnerable

In 1998, Fuad Mahamed arrived in the UK as a refugee to find a lot of goodwill, but a system which was fragmented and lacking focus on long-term integration. So, in 2008 he established ACH to support

refugees and other vulnerable homeless people by offering them the supported accommodation, along with the training and education, necessary to help them integrate into UK society. During the past 10 years ACH has changed from

a small-scale housing provider, located in inner-city Bristol, to a leading provider of resettlement and integration services for refugees and newly arrived communities in the UK. They now employ 65 staff, work with 2,500

people per year, deliver services in the West of England and West Midlands, and offer advice and assistance across the UK and beyond. For a recent project, ACH partnered with First

West of England to give local refugees the opportunity to become bus drivers through a special training programme. First West of England have a shortage of bus

drivers and had (up until now) struggled to successfully promote their job opportunities to local refugee and BAME communities in East Bristol. The partnership between ACH and First West

of England is a great example of business and the community coming together to make Bristol a better place. First West of England were involved in the

programme every step of the way, from its design to the end recruitment process, while ACH sourced and selected candidates for the training programme, and ran the elements focused on customer service, interview skills, the Highway Code, culture/vision/mission/values at First and candidate medical and driving licence checks. Speaking about the programme, James

Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said: “Through our partnership with ACH, we hope to provide refugees and

vulnerable members of the community with a life-changing opportunity to develop real workplace skills and build a new life in the city. ACH joined Bristol Chamber in 2016 to help

find local partners, such as First West of England, that would enable them to continue their impactful work across the city. Speaking about Business West Chambers of

Commerce, Matthew Rodgers, marketing & communications officer, said: “Since joining, ACH have found the assistance provided by Business West invaluable, we’ve explained what we want to achieve, and they have advised us on the best way to do this using the different channels they offer. “We would recommend joining the Chamber

to expand your networks and raise awareness of your business 100%.”


LOCATION: Ashley Community Housing Ltd, Unit 20, Easton Business Centre, Felix Road, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0HE

WHAT WE DO: ACH is a social enterprise working to resettle refugees through labour market and social integration.

HISTORY:During the past 10 years ACH has changed from a small scale housing provider, located in inner city Bristol, to a leading provider of resettlement and integration services for refugee and newly arrived communities in the UK. We now employ 65 staff, work with 2,500 people per year and deliver services in the West Of England and West Midlands, and offer advice and assistance across the UK and beyond.


NAME: Luke Marshall

POSITION: Customer engagement executive E:

T: 01275 370969 What does your role at Business

West involve? My role at Business West involves helping businesses get the most out of their annual membership. This involves communicating regularly with a wide range of businesses. I also carry out customer referrals across different Business West departments, so it’s important that I stay up to date on everything that Business West is offering.

What were you doing before you

worked at Business West? I worked as a sales and logistics executive

for a company in Glastonbury which produced and exported horticultural crops.

What is the most unusual business

you’ve encountered? It has to be the company that I previously worked at – I don’t know what’s more unusual than growing Date Palm plants in a greenhouse in Somerset and selling them to customers in far-flung places like the UAE, Thailand and Australia.

What is your top tip for anyone

starting out in business? I think that it’s important to have a thirst for knowledge and try to learn as much as you can in the beginning, as well as be receptive enough to realise that there is something to learn from everyone and from every situation.

What are your interests outside work? Mainly going to the gym and playing sports. My life pretty much revolves around football and I also play for a basketball team in Bristol, which plays in the national league.

MAY/JUNE 2019 insight 13

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