REFUGEES will cram a year's worth of English tuition into the next six weeks.

The intensive course, organised by Swindon charity the Harbour Project and Swindon School of English, will see the 11 students given a grounding in everyday English.

Organisers hope the daily classes will help prepare the group for the world of work.

Zanko Hamadi, 25, who fled to the UK from Iran 15 months ago, said: “I need to be able to speak English for everything: to contact people, to work, to study. English is the first thing you have to learn.”

The young student said he would be happy working anywhere but hopes to work in retail. The multi-cultural aspect of the course, which will see refugees from Africa and the Middle East studying together, appealed to Zanko: “We can learn something more about each others’ cultures and learn English together.”

Swindon is one of the south west’s key dispersal towns, where asylum seekers are housed while they wait for permission to stay in the UK. The Home Office gives them just £37.75 a week on which to live as they wait for their asylum claim to be processed.

Many of those arriving in the UK held professional jobs in their home country and the 11-strong group being given an intense grounding in English includes a former teacher and rocket scientist.

Bronwyn Young of the Harbour Project’s Steps2Work programme hopes the course will lead to bright futures for the motivated group: “They come from large communities and they want to feel the same sense of belonging here, to be able to share friendships with their neighbours, talk to their children’s teachers and ultimately find jobs and contribute to the region’s economic vitality.

“Two of them are looking for electrical or engineering apprenticeships. One of them already has a college qualification.

“This course should make apprenticeships and work a real possibility for them. I’m talking to the colleges and businesses now to see if we can make that happen.”

The course is expected to be hard work for both the students and the teachers.

Robert Moyse, director of Wood Street’s Swindon School of English, said: “Our students are normally studying maybe a couple of days a week over a long period of time. This is condensing everything into an intensive six week period. It’s intensive for them and for us.

He said the aim was to use the course to “turn them into independent learners so once the course finishes they can continue”.

The curriculum would be practical: “We have a lot more functional English, preparing them for everyday situations.”

The course has been funded through a grant from Santander bank. It has the backing of business leaders and Swindon’s job centre.