A LEADING city refugee group has been awarded nearly £500,000 to work with refugees and asylum seekers in Southampton.

The Big Lottery Fund cash boost will go to Clear (City Life Education and Action for Refugees) – meaning the group’s work is now secured until July 2021.

Clear was established in 2001 by City Life Church and assists refugees, asylum seekers and their families to build new lives in the UK by providing free professional advice, English language classes and other services.

This is the third consecutive round of funding Clear has received from the Big Lottery, which has supported Clear since 2012.

Paul Woodman, City Life Church Southampton Leader, said: “We are delighted with this continued support and very proud of the work of Clear, serving many people coming from all across the world.We are indebted to the dedication of our staff and the generosity of our volunteers who make a difference to people’s lives every day”

Mike Brown, manager of Clear, said: “Clear is the only dedicated agency in Southampton providing specialist advice to asylum seekers and

refugees, and we are the largest provider of English for

Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

“This award from the Big Lottery allows us to plan confidently to serve our beneficiaries in the years ahead.”

Cllr Satvir Kaur, city council cabinet member for homes and culture, added: “We are delighted that CLEAR’s unique blend of services, and the commitment of its staff and volunteers, have once again received the recognition of the Big Lottery Fund. Southampton has a rich and diverse history of being a welcoming city and now as a City of Sanctuary, it is important we continue to support and work with organisations like Clear that play a vital role in enabling those fleeing persecution to rebuild their lives here and contribute to our great city.”

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said: “Clear has made a terrific impact in the city helping refugees not merely to survive but to thrive and make their contribution to society.”