In the press

"Mursal Hedayat was 3 years old when she, her older sister, and her mother had to flee war-torn Afghanistan in 1994. Her mother, a civil engineer, hoped to continue her work when they arrived in the UK. But like many refugees, her education and experience weren’t enough... Her mother’s perseverance was the inspiration behind Chatterbox, an organization that trains refugees to lead online and in-person language tutoring."

"It's an amazing thing to be able to teach your language to other people because it will help them understand you more," the 30-year-old said after the language class organized by UK social enterprise Chatterbox at [SOAS] University of London. 

"Today I had students from Taiwan, England and Germany. You meet people from everywhere and I love that."

"Refugees are often forced to start with nothing when they arrive in a new country. In the UK, a social enterprise is helping professionals to rebuild their lives by sharing their skills, reports Bethan Staton."

"For us, tech is about maximising the accessibility of our service for both language learners and potential tutors. As we were piloting the project, the convenience of being able to learn from home attracted language learners from all around the UK, as well as a few living abroad. Crucially, the option of teaching online via webcam enables the refugees who found themselves ‘dispersed‘ across the country during their asylum seeking process (in accordance with government policy) to benefit from the initiative as much as those based near us in London."

"Chatterbox’s affordable, innovative, and engaging language learning approach has been used by hundreds of users in over 500 hours cross-cultural exchange. In less than a year of trading, Chatterbox has worked with schools, universities, individuals, charities, and businesses. Upcoming clients include more universities and huge organizations that are household names."

"There is plenty of room for growth and the organisation, which has been supported with grants from NESTABethnal Green VenturesUnLtd and others, looks set to continue to attract interest and support. "The good news is we are increasingly taken on bigger clients," offers Hedayat."

"Ahmed Dica and Rebecca Stacy, who are taking the African Studies degree at SOAS, commented: "We managed to practise our conversational skills with someone who speaks a different dialect of Swahili, we are confident speakers and so, for the first time, we were able to practise with a native speaker outside of our familiar university setting.” 

Just as importantly, the sessions helped promote understanding: “I have developed greater empathy for the situation people in her country face,” said Jacob Marchewicz, studying Chinese and Korean.

"Business-minded people will want to speak the languages of the markets of the future, says Hedayat. “These are Arabic speaking countries, Hindi and Urdu, there is Chinese, Korean, and very soon with Africa blossoming it is going to be languages like Lingala, Swahili. So we offer the languages of the future.”"

"60 seconds on… Chatterbox employs refugees as tutors to address the language skills gap.”

"Árabe, suajili, kurdo, turco, bengalí, coreano... Decenas de refugiados con estudios universitarios ofrecen clases de sus idiomas nativos en la Universidad de Londres, gracias a una novedosa iniciativa ideada por una joven cuya familia llegó huyendo de Afganistán."

"Chatterbox, another communications aid, was developed by Mursal Hedayat, a refugee from Afghanistan, to provide language tutoring. It recruits, trains and supports talented individuals who are refugees through a website to find work as language tutors. Refugees, who are dispersed across the UK, are linked up with individuals and organisations – often based somewhere else – which require those language skills."

"What welcome news that attitudes towards refugees, thanks to the likes of entrepreneurs like Mursal and establishments like SOAS, are finally beginning to reflect the diverse, cultural melting pot that makes London and many, many parts of the UK such incredible places in which to live and work."

"Being multilingual is an asset most of us would love to have, but it isn’t always possible. With thousands seeking refuge in the UK, what better than to take advantage of this augmentation of language?

This is where Chatterbox comes in. A startup who are using the refugee ‘crisis’ as an advantage, ensuring those seeking refuge receive adequate opportunities.

They are on a mission to eradicate all negative tendencies relating to refugees and highlight the untapped potential in the community."

"Imagine arriving in a foreign country, not being accustomed to the culture or knowing the language. And that degree that you worked so hard to get? It’s now obsolete. It’s a very real problem that many refugees arriving in the UK are faced with, and a problem that Mursal Hedayat hopes to tackle."

"Start 2017 by improving yourself and supporting refugees at the same time!

Chatterbox connects refugees with those learning languages. Despite being highly-qualified in their native countries, refugees struggle to find employment. Chatterbox works to combat this, while also offering a solution to the UK’s severe language skill deficit (estimated at a cost of £48bn per year)."

"The challenges the UK is struggling with in refugee integration are being experienced in similar ways across Europe, and we would like to see Chatterbox expand to offer opportunities to more refugees, focussing on Germany and Sweden."

"... tech has enabled Chatterbox to access an online language learning market worth billions from a desk in East London. We are able to deliver our range of linguistic and cultural training services to a global audience using novel applications of existing tech tools."