Client Story

Toranj Tuition

  • Location: Hull
  • Sector: Employment, Education and Training
  • Amount: £125k
  • Purpose: Building Purchase
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Twenty years ago, three Iranian nationals were studying for PhDs at the University of Hull. Shocked at the low educational record in the city, they set up Toranj Tuition.

Research and Development Officer, Dr Pedram Saeid, said: “At the beginning, we were a formal network of like-minded people. As social activists, we believe education is at the heart of social mobility. Through education, people can improve their opportunities.”

They started with just four schools.

“It grew very fast. To date, we have worked with more than 50 schools, and have recruited over 100 mentors.”

It offers in-school tuition, homework clubs, and science workshops.

Many of the children are from deprived backgrounds, or have recently relocated to the UK as asylum seekers or refugees.

“Our approach was to use local resources to address local problems. A university city, we decided to leverage the human capital of the university.”

Its mentors are students who are trained, certified, and paid by the hour.

“It is a win-win situation, the student gains experience and children improve their education. Young people as tutors proved very successful as they build a good rapport and are part of youth culture. They are role models for children.”

Dr Saeid said: “The root of problems is not just material poverty, but poverty of expectation. The children are surrounded by adults who have not been in full-time jobs or higher education. They copy their parents. So, we encourage our tutors not just to support them in their academic subjects, but to inspire them and raise their expectations. It’s been a very successful model so far.”

Toranj Tuition is one of just a few organisations approved as National Tutoring Programme providers. Its science workshops are supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, and Royal Academy of Engineering.

For adults, it offers English language and employability training, and is one of the few organisations in the north supporting highly qualified migrants at risk of being jobless or in lower paid jobs.

“We help them to build their confidence and advance their language to pass the required exams to re-enter their past professions.”

Many of the forced migrants they support fled from war torn or unstable countries such as Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Middle East, or African countries.

“We were heavily dependent on EU funding. We have been trying to move from grants to contracts and sales, but still there is a long way to go.”

During Covid, Toranj Tuition’s premises were used as a food bank and it expanded into a community hub. It realised it needed a more accessible building, with the current premises in need of repair and unfit for purpose.

To support this, in 2021 Key Fund gave a them a loan to help them purchase a building in the centre of Hull.

“Without Key Fund’s support, our future wouldn’t have been very bright. We were renting a building that wasn’t energy efficient. Now energy is more expensive, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it. Owning our own building offers stability. We rent out extra rooms, which provides surplus money. What’s more, all the tenants are start-up businesses by ethnic minorities who receive our advice and support, so we have a kind of informal business incubator.”

They also organise socialising and community events from the building to enhance community cohesion. Currently around 60 people take part in film and book clubs.

“People come together, socialise and have fun because loneliness is a common problem, especially for migrant people.”

Toranj Tuition has two part-time staff and 50 tutors, paid by the hour. Its turnover is between £150- £200k.

Like the other directors, Dr Saeid works largely on a voluntary basis. They are dedicated to changing lives for the better.

“My passion is to help. The cause that we believe in keeps us going. We are hopeful that things will get better.”

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