Meet The Bridges Staff

Meet The Staff

Click any of the names below to find out more about our superbly talented and dedicated team!
 

Maggie Lennon, Director

I started working with asylum seekers and refugees in 2002 by setting up the Bridges Project in response to the growing racial tension in the city following the introduction of a dispersal policy of asylum seekers to Glasgow. The programme has grown continuously since then and in 2005 became the Charity the Bridges Programmes.
 
Before working in this field I was an award winning bookseller, ran my own company and was former Editor of the Weekend Scotsman.

Initially Bridges was started with a purely humanitarian purpose to give dignity and confidence back to people who had suffered through the asylum and refugee process by re-connecting them to their skills and helping prepare them for their future where ever that would be. From 2007, with the large numbers of clients being grated leave to remain, our focus shifted more to helping them access employment education and training enabling them to become contributing citizens.

 I am fortunate to work with a dedicated and passionate team of experts in their field and have the huge satisfaction of knowing that every day we make a positive difference to people’s lives. I have seen my original idea grow into a well- respected charity both in the UK and Europe and it is the best career choice I have ever made.

Elizabeth Porter, Assistant Director/Employer Engagement Lead

I joined Bridges Programmes in May 2007 having previously worked for several years as an Employment Development worker with a large learning disability organisation where I ran several employability programmes such as Training for Work, Get Ready for Work, Work Preparation and Supported Employment. Before that, I worked as a recruitment consultant for a large industrial recruitment company specialising in high volume industrial recruitment before being promoted to branch manager.
My role within Bridges is Assistant Director and Employer Engagement lead and over the years I have set up long term partnerships with employers from a variety of sectors including Social Care, Hospitality, Private Business and the Public Sector. I am involved with developing and delivering a range of training programmes in partnership with employers which leads to clients getting the practical experience they need to gain employment in the UK.
My day to day role is to support the casework team, engage with employers and look for suitable training and employment opportunities for clients.
What I enjoy most about Bridges Programmes are fantastic and motivated clients who come from all over the world and from all different backgrounds that I get to meet and help them on their journey towards employment and inclusion. 
I am also lucky to work with a great team of knowledgeable, dedicated employability specialists who go over and above their job role to do the best job they can for our clients and often their families. They are hardworking but also lots of fun and I am lucky to be part of such a great team.

Elena Silich, Senior Caseworker

I joined Bridges Programmes in 2010 but have known the company for over 10 years as I was originally a client. In 2008, I attended the Equipped for Future course, completed a placement at a construction company and as a result was offered a job as a Health and Safety Engineer which was my occupation in my home country.
 
After the economic downturn, the construction industry collapsed so I decided to change my career and became an Immigration Advisor for the Scottish Refugee Council.
 
Throughout this time, I was still in touch with Bridges and they offered me a role as Caseworker which I welcomed as they had helped me in the past and this was my chance to share my experiences with the clients and improve their futures.
 
I was promoted to Senior Caseworker in 2020. I arrange and manage placements with companies and organisations for the clients, recruit organisations and companies and suitable clients and represent Bridges at relevant events. I like working with the clients because I have first-hand experience going through the immigration process, have a deep understanding on what people go through to settle down in new country and I am more than happy to support clients and share my knowledge.

Sean Beaton, Employability Caseworker

I studied law at university and joined Bridges as an intern in 2016. I offered assistance to colleagues and clients with things such as CVs, applications, and funding.
After I was taken on full time, I ran a project with the Red Cross aimed at helping young asylum seekers and refugees settle in Glasgow, giving them the opportunity to volunteer and gain essential skills and understanding of the UK workplace. On this project I delivered one-to-one employability training and arranged placements at a variety of organisations.
My role also involves assisting clients with applications for college and university, providing support with their personal statements. I have also assisted many with funding applications for books, travel money etc. to enable them to attend classes.
I am an approved Disclosure Scotland signatory, essential to Bridges Programmes, as this allows me to countersign PVG applications.  
Currently I am involved in the ESF, AMIF, and EMME projects
 
 

Amanda Crawford, Medical Professionals Caseworker/Trainer

I joined Bridges in January 2013. Prior to coming to Bridges, I worked for over 20 years for Jobcentre Plus and delivered and developed employability training for DWP mandatory Employability Programmes – New Deal, Flexible New Deal and the Work Programme.

 
For the last four years I have been working with medical professionals, mainly doctors, assisting them with making the journey to work here in the UK. I have developed and deliver the online digital training for medical doctors.
 
I enjoy my job and I get great satisfaction in knowing that on a daily basis I am assisting Bridges clients with their social and economic integration.
 
I work with a great team at Bridges and enjoy coming to work every day.
 

Anca Coughlan, Medical Professionals Caseworker

I joined Bridges Programmes in June 2020 as a Case Worker on the Refugee Medical Professionals Programme (RDP). 
In my native Romania, I studied foreign languages and worked as an English tutor, Interpreter/Translator & office administrator with foreign organisations active in various sectors. 
When I relocated to Scotland in 2010, I was able to put my language skills to use by taking up a French-speaking post, subsequently working  as a Romanian Interpreter/Translator for a government  organisation and helping Romanians in Glasgow to liaise with professionals in the social work services,  NHS, education sector .
My current role with Bridges is exciting and challenging at the same time, as it combines performing a variety of administrative duties related to the job and teaching English and designing all medical and language tests in parallel. I support qualified refugee medical professionals to return to the profession in Scotland by providing relevant information and assistance. I also maintain and upgrade the digital learning platform in innovative ways to suit their needs.
It is highly rewarding and fulfilling to know that I can make a small difference in our clients’ lives by supporting and encouraging them to become proficient in English so that they can apply for their desired job in the UK.

Maria Wambura, NARIC Officer

I contacted the Bridges Programmes for the first time in 2016 as a friend of mine had received support from Bridges and it was incredible to see the impact that this had on their life. I was quite new in the country and I was also looking for some opportunities to advance my career.
Before arriving in Scotland, I had studied African Cultures and International Relations and worked for non-governmental organisations on various projects supporting the economic and cultural integration of ethnic minorities in my home country Poland.
I was very excited when the Bridges Programmes invited me for an interview for the Life Skills Trainer/Caseworker role. I joined the Bridges team in January 2017 and delivered a series of Life Skills courses across Glasgow as a part of Scottish Refugee Integration Service. It was a great experience, I had a chance to work in partnership with many Glasgow based organisations that support refugees and I was happy to assist our clients with their progression into work experience, further education, training and employment.
Currently I work as a NARIC officer. I support people who graduated from overseas universities to prepare applications to UK NARIC and to have their qualifications recognised in the UK.
I am happy to work for an organisation like the Bridges Programmes as all together, we can make Glasgow a city full of opportunities for anyone who sought a new home and a better life.
 
 
 

Monica Gomez, Administrator

I heard about Bridges Programmes while I was studying ESOL at Clyde College and decided to register in January 2019 for their Skills Recognition Course as I wanted the opportunity to work in the field, I had previously worked in.
While living in my home country of Spain, I studied for HNC in Administration at college and worked as an admin assistant for a few years. When I came to Scotland I worked as a nanny for several years but was keen to get back into office work. While on the RPL programme my caseworker helped me recognise my skills then arranged a work experience placement in the admin department of a large construction company so I could practice then update my skills which I enjoyed very much. After this placement, I was keen to learn more and Bridges offered me a placement in their office, supported me to improve my skills and gave me the confidence to believe I could have a career in Scotland. In May 2019, they invited me to apply for the position of Admin Assistant and I was delighted to be offered the job.
I have now been employed with Bridges since May 2019 as Administration Assistant/Receptionist. I deal with all reception duties including greeting people when they come in the office, answering and redirecting calls, managing client database and assisting my colleagues with any help they need.
I am proud to be part of the team and have the opportunity to help people like me for whom English is their second language.

Claire Mills, Skills Recognition Caseworker

I am originally from Plymouth, I moved Glasgow in 2002 to take up the role as a Team Manager which then promoted me to Quality Manager where I managed a team of over 100 agents and 8 Managers, which I did for 10 years.
As I have always been interested in the employability/recruitment side of work I left the call centre to work with long term unemployed as a Case Manager for 5 years in which I worked on European Social Fund (ESF) with clients who were on the mandatory Work Programme.
In 2018 I joined Bridges Programmes to create and develop a new project called RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) which is now known as Skills Recognition Scotland, this is a revolutionary project which has grown over the last two years and is now a recognised Scottish Government programme. I am still involved in this project and supporting participants from the Engineering, IT, Hospitality, Social Care and Pharmaceutical sectors. Due to COVID 19, the work on this project continued very successfully online, with 1-1 meetings, webinars and drop-in sessions.
I also developed Active Futures in 2019, a course which trains women to become Activity Coordinators in a Care Home. I am someone who has a mother with Dementia in a Care Home so I understood what was needed to ensure the course was a success. The course has proved to not only educate the women on the course of the role of an Activity Worker but, it has shown that these women can open up about their own stories of when they have cared for people and how to adapt this to this role. I have also had the privilege of working on transnational projects where I have the opportunity to work overseas.
 
 

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