In Conversation with The Launchpad Collective


The Launchpad Collective (TLC) helps refugees enter the workplace via a supportive community of volunteers and specialists who engage with the individual to find the right opportunity.

We met TLC in early 2020 and have loved having them as one of our strategic partners. In addition to funding, we’ve partnered on workshops and training opportunities with some of our other members.

Here, we chat with Summerly Devito and Jane Lancashire, Co-Founders of The Launchpad Collective, about their role in supporting refugees in the workplace.

Summerly and Jane are passionate about driving systemic change and pioneering a shift in public and employer perspectives regarding refugee employment.

They stress that we must look at the whole picture to make real change.

While not physically in the same place, Summerly and Jane bounce off each other during our Zoom conversation, and their determination to make a difference is palpable.

“Whether it’s lack of English proficiency, past trauma, low confidence, negative perceptions of refugees, or lack of childcare access, there are lots of restrictions to refugees finding work,” Jane tells us.

“In this country, we’ve been in an employment crisis for quite some time. Recruitment challenges are facing the UK economy with massive shortfalls. 

“But despite this skills shortage crisis, we understand and appreciate that employers need more confidence in recruiting refugees.

“So, this is why we decided that our services must improve the confidence of the employer and the job seeker, removing those fears and anxieties and working towards meaningful diversity.”

Taking a more holistic approach to refugee employment will benefit everyone, as better access to meaningful work will also get more diverse talent into the workforce, bridging the skills gap.

We’ve supported TLC with long-term funding, which has helped them to secure staff, enable leadership, and run creative community projects.

“Enjoolata has always had a belief and trust in us,” Summerly says. “They’ve encouraged us to be brave and bold. We’ve benefited from their expertise, warmth, and incredible network. They work with genuine care for our welfare and our well-being.”

The duo highlights the challenge many social enterprises face when seeking funding, explaining how their partnership with us is different, primarily due to the longevity of our relationship and support from the entire community.

“The security allowed us to focus on our core work. We’re not simply delivering services for refugee jobseekers but also trying to create systemic change. So, for example, we want more people with lived experience in leadership roles.

“We’ve also got an advocacy campaign focused on changing legislation. Right from the beginning, the robust financial support from Enjoolata has accelerated our work. And it’s also enabled us to stay bold.”

From ice skating in December to enjoying our coffee mornings, TLC has become invaluable to our community, sharing their experiences and supporting other partners.

“There’s a real appetite for sharing and collaborative work in this area.” They tell us.

“We’ve even had a chance to become a working partner with some of their network. We’ve had some well-being days at LoveBrook Farm and have been offered several different skill development training opportunities.”

We look forward to continuing to support The Launchpad Collective in the future.

If TLC’s cause is inspiring, and you want to get involved, they’re always looking for volunteers who can share their time and expertise. You can learn more about The Launchpad Collective and get involved here.

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