The Iranian Association (IA) was established as a registered charity in 1985 and was initially known as West London Iranian Association. The IA has always been a dynamic organisation and has embraced organisational development; for example, the service delivery was transformed to benefit all ethnic groups two decades ago. The association has been a pioneer in service development and delivery, offering online and ESOL for Citizenship courses in the 2000s, delivering embedded learning a long time before its implementation by the mainstream colleges, operating one of the first Life in the UK test centres in Britain, delivering the NHS Health Trainer service in Hammersmith for the first time and initiating three community oral history projects.
Over the last four decades the IA has been supported by a wide range of agencies, including the government departments, local authorities, London Councils, London Development Agency, Ufi, Learndirect, UK Online, European Social Fund, NHS, Hammersmith College and grant-making trusts such as BBC Children in Need, John Lyon’s Charity, Trust for London, City Bridge Trust, Lloyds Bank Foundation and National Lottery Community Fund: Reaching Communities.
In the 1980s the association offered information and advice on immigration, welfare and housing; it also organized cultural activities. Furthermore, the IA made arrangements with a number of housing associations to manage short-term accommodations for homeless refugees until the early 1990s.
To meet the demand for training over the last four decades, the IA portfolio of the courses has included a wide range of accredited and non-accredited courses on subjects such as IT, Media, Video Production, Digital Photography, ESOL, Literacy, Numeracy, Preparation for Employment, Arts, Oral History and Health and Hygiene. The first structured training programme of the association, launched in 1990, was supported by Hammersmith & Fulham Local Authority to help the students improve their IT, English and job search skills. In the first decade of the 21st century several hundred students annually enjoyed the Learndirect flexible and blended learning experience; many of whom achieved basic and advanced City & Guilds and British Computer Society qualifications. The IA has effectively contributed to the development of flexible and blended learning in London and was one of the first organisations in Britain to join the Learndirect network and UK Online centres.
One of the greatest achievements of the Iranian Association has been the delivery of the Life in the UK tests; since November 2005 it has been one of about 30 or so citizenship test centres in Britain. Following its success in delivery of the online tests/courses, the association launched the Department for Education’s Literacy and Numeracy online tests for new teachers in December 2014. Building on the existing work in the area of advice and guidance, the IA started its advice, guidance and employability project in April 2002. The Iranian Association was a Nextstep centre until 2012 and was also supported by London Development Agency to offer work placements and education bursaries.
The association was re-registered as a charitable company in July 2007; a change reflecting its multi-group nature and enabling it to offer services to a more diverse range of clients.
Over the last years the Iranian Association has also managed a number of health projects for families, young and older people. Between the years 2000 and 2012 the NHS supported the association to offer the Health Promotion project, Health Volunteers and Health Trainer service. The National Lottery also funded a Women’s Social and Healthcare project until the early 2000s. The NHS, DESTA (a local consortium) and Paddington Development Trust supported the IA to run Expert Patient Programme (wellbeing self-management courses) from 2012 to 2017. Since 2009 the association has also offered a very successful BACP-accredited counselling service supported by agencies such as Trust for London.
To increase the independence of the older people and reduce their isolation, the IA has offered a number of services including the lunch club “Healthy Lifestyles for Older People” (2010- 2012) and the “Bright Life for over 50s” (2014-2021) which was supported by the National Lottery. The “Bright Life for over 50s’’ provided diverse activities including one-to-one advice sessions, IT courses, ESOL classes, Health Awareness workshops, Exercise sessions, one-to-one/group Counselling and social outings/events.
To meet the young people’s needs, the association has managed a range of projects for their benefit over the past years. It launched the mother-tongue classes more than 35 years ago. The youngsters have enjoyed participating in activities such as Maths/English classes, Youth Club, Video Production, Drama/Dance and Arts/Crafts that have improved their skills and overall performance at school. These activities have been supported by the BBC Children in Need, John Lyon’s Charity, local authorities and CVS. The IA has also provided work placements to the young people at the local schools and colleges to help them gain an understanding of the world of work. The association has offered this service despite the fact it has not been funded.
Since the early 2000s the IA has demonstrated commitment to offer high quality services by fulfilling the requirements of a number of quality frameworks including the Investors in People, Advice Quality Standards (AQS), Matrix, Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), Supplementary School Quality Mark and PQASSO.