“IF you want people to be able to fulfil their potential here and economically contribute,” said Bronwyn Young, “they’ve got to be able to speak English.

“It’s absolutely impossible to relax until you’ve got an idea of the language, an idea of the body language and the culture.

“That’s the absolute top and bottom of it. You can’t go past it.”

Bronwyn has lived in many countries.

She was born in Canada to Australian parents, and the family moved back to Australia.

As a teenager, Bronwyn went to Japan as part of an exchange scheme organised by Rotary, which she remembers as both enjoyable and inspirational.

The holder of degrees in law and Asian Studies, she worked in national journalism and broadcasting in Australia, and later in roles as diverse as parliamentary library researcher and as head of the speech writing unit in the Attorney General’s office.

Bronwyn came to Swindon some years ago after her husband’s job brought him to the town.

She began volunteering with the Harbour Project a year ago and began co-ordinating the Steps2Work programme last autumn.

It has so far helped or still is helping about 40 people, seven of whom have found employment.

One of the things that attracted Bronwyn to the Harbour Project was the strong team ethic, and she is at pains to credit colleagues for the success of Steps2Work.

“I’d always been interested in refugees and the geopolitical issues behind them, but always in a practical sense. I’m a very practical person. I heard about Harbour and I came down.

“When I walked in, wow, there was an energetic buzz. The sort of things they do – really practical, hands-on, solving problems – really attracted me.

“If I was going to be singing Kumbaya I wasn’t coming!”

Bronwyn is full of praise for the organisations which help the Harbour Project do its work; the intensive language course, for example, wouldn’t have been possible without Swindon School of English and a Santander community grant.

She believes her early experiences of moving from country to country, and especially her time in Japan, have given her valuable insights, although she readily acknowledges that there is a world of difference between travelling voluntarily and being a refugee.

“You have an idea of how you can just be hit from left field by something that you didn’t even imagine could possibly be different in another country, which really throws you.

“I understand how when you’re in a totally new culture, operating at the limits of your language ability, your stress level is always higher because you’re always looking for the next surprise. So on top of everything else that these guys have, they’re coping with that dimension as well.”

Bronwyn has devised a simple diagram in the form of a pyramid to explain Steps2Work.

At the bottom is the sturdy foundation - arrival at the Harbour Project and ensuring that vital matters such as benefits and housing are attended to.

The next tiers include learning English, forming community links, developing job-seeking skills, securing leave to remain and finding work.

At the top of the pyramid is a simple gold star: “It’s getting a job or a life that is appropriate to your skills, your qualifications and your experience.”

Already Bronwyn is thinking of ways to fund another intensive course, and also wants to hear from more businesses.

“I want businesses to take a chance on us, to give us a go, to open their doors and give us paid and unpaid internships, talk to our people, give them an interview, see what they’re like.

“These are people from can-do countries who often have hands-on qualifications, hands-on experience. They can value-add to your business and if you’re looking at export markets into Africa and the Middle East, these are the people that you want on board because they have the skills and the knowledge that can help you grow your business.”

The Harbour Project can be contacted via harbourproject.org.uk