Staff and students from South Lanarkshire College have partnered with local organisation East Kilbride Integration Network (EKin) to provide essential support to asylum seekers in East Kilbride by donating clothing and laptops.

EKin, established in 2023, aims to welcome, connect, and support new migrants in the East Kilbride area. The charity hosts monthly cafes at the Village East Kilbride Centre, offering free haircuts, advice, conversation, food, and opportunities for community integration.

South Lanarkshire College recently partnered with EKin to make the donation after the College’s Learning Development Curriculum Manager, Pauline Heeley, and students in the South Lanarkshire College Skills for Employment course discovered the organisation on social media and reached out to help.

Pauline said, “As a community college, it’s important that we work together with local organisations to create a supportive and welcoming environment for all. When our Skills for Employment students, who manage the College Way Market—a second-hand shop on campus where students can access donated clothing for free—learned about EKin and the struggles new migrants faced in accessing appropriate clothing and footwear, they were eager to help. The College Way Market supports South Lanarkshire College students by offering free clothing for everyday college attire and smart workwear for job interviews. This initiative has evolved into a full-time on-campus shop, offering students access to free clothing daily, making it an ideal way for us to assist EKin. The enthusiastic students worked with their lecturers to sort and clean donations for EKin members, and the visitors to the monthly cafe were thrilled with the offerings”.

Pauline continued, "After meeting with the organisation, I quickly realised that EKin also needed IT equipment and learning materials to address digital poverty and support learning, as well as to facilitate their visitors' communication with friends and family. This led Chris Sumner, our Head of MIS and IT at South Lanarkshire College, to donate 15 used laptops to support this initiative. Moving forward, we will expand our partnership as the organisation begins offering ESOL classes to their visitors. As a community ambassador, we are committed to helping in any way we can. To meet demand, we will continue sharing learning materials and providing additional digital equipment."

Kiem from EKin expressed their gratitude to South Lanarkshire College, saying, "East Kilbride Integration Network (EKin) is extremely grateful for the overwhelming support received from staff at South Lanarkshire College,East Kilbride”.

Kiem continued “EKin recognises the tremendous difficulties faced by people fleeing desperate situations in countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Sudan, Palestine, and Syria. Asylum seekers often endure life-threatening journeys to safer shores, only to face new challenges in navigating language, culture, transport, and structural barriers. These are compounded by the limitations of minimal finances—hotel-housed asylum seekers receive around £8 a week—and the inability to work, leading to physical, social, and mental impacts. We need to empower and enable people to integrate and contribute their skills, abilities, and experience to our local area”.

To find out more about the organisation, head to the Ekin website