Working together to unlock social and economic opportunities

Brushstrokes (Father Hudson’s Care) is a partner in the European Regional Development fund USE-IT (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together) project.

Read about the project on The Guardian website

USE-IT! involves organisations and individuals working together to unlock social and economic opportunities in Ladywood, Soho and Smethwick by linking large capital investments (i.e. the new Midlands Metropolitan Hospital, new housing developments and potential plans for the canals and Edgbaston Reservoir) with local skills, talents and micro-capital.

Brushstrokes is working alongside Birmingham University to recruit and support the development of a team of community researchers. Two of our volunteers have been some of the first individuals to go through the Open College Network (OCN) accredited community research training programme.

Another key element of our work is identifying individuals in the USE-IT area who have overseas qualifications and providing support to help them explore the options to be able to make use of those qualifications and previous professional work experience. Brushstrokes is providing support to individuals to help them to be work ready and providing advice: advocacy to address practical barriers that are making it difficult to move into employment or training.

USE-IT has concentrated in year one on finding individuals with overseas health qualifications and have permission to work. Brushstrokes is working with NHS Learning Works and Karis Neighbourhood Centre as part of this work programme. Language needs have been identified as the major barrier to employment in the NHS for this group of health professionals.
Brushstrokes has responded to this need by developing and delivering an IELTS course which has been running since September 2017, we have already seen several students gain the IELTS scores they need take the next step towards employment in the health sector.
The USE-IT! programme has enabled Brushstrokes
to provide an IELTS course for individuals with
overseas health qualifications. The course started in
January and we have 25 learners who are a mix of
doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care
professionals studying with us.  Through the USE-IT!
Programme we are helping health professionals make
that journey towards work in the health sector a
possibility by providing this much needed English
language support.
We will be running several courses over the next 12 months."
Visit the USE-IT! website

As part of our partnership working with NHS Learning Works and the Use-it! project, Brushstrokes now offers an Occupational English (OET) course for overseas health professionals. The General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council will both now accept OET as the English Language requirement for nurses and doctors.



Many of our IELTS students have been requesting anOET course as they feel it is more achievable than IELTS. Although the standard of English required is the same for both, the OET test and course materials are medically contextualised so the vocabulary is familiar and the test is more relevant to their profession. Teacher, Dee Sturman, has completed training with OET and we are now an OET Premium Preparation Provider.

For more information about the USE-IT programme please visit their website or Facebook page.
USE IT website link -
USE IT Facebook page -
USE IT Read about it in The Guardian

If you know of anyone in the Soho and Victoria, Summerfield or Winson Green area with overseas qualifications but who is not working in that occupation at present but would like to explore their options please contact for more information.