Sam's Story

Here at Lews Castle College UHI we do so much more than simply providing learning opportunities. We work extremely to support local businesses and communities to provide qualifications and skills where required. One example of this is how LCC UHI worked with student Ousama Alnakeeb and how we supported him on his learning journey since arriving in Stornoway form Syria.

Sam shared his story with us:

 “My name is Ousama Alnakeeb i am from Syria, I am 32 years old and my family and I came to Stornoway for 4 years ago. I have never spoke English before but i started to learn in Stornoway. I like it here; everyone is very kind to us.

At the start of college, it was a bit hard because of my language but then i got used to it. I also trained in Men Only and everyone in there was very kind and i was happy working with them because they helped me and the boss of Men Only is Kay she helped me a lot

After this i decided to open a new barber shop that was Turkish style hot towel shave. I was very excited to open the shop and i hope the shop goes well.”

David Bell Course Leader on our Horticultural Employability Course worked with Sam when he first moved to Stornoway, “Sam joined us to help to improve his English Language skills but also to meet new people. He proved to be a very capable and hardworking student, his English started improving very quickly.  He used Post-it notes stuck to various objects to help him - reading the name every time he passed one.

One of his main aims was to pass his driving test and we used to go over a mock Theory test most days he was in. Once Sam had spent a year with us he was confident enough to move on to employment in the community. After a number of months, Sam got back in touch with me to say that he would like to learn Barbering.  I was able to set up meetings with the hairdressing department and I accompanied him to these until he got to know everybody."  

Sam went on to train with our Hairdressing section and Course Leader Elspeth Robertson where he undertook a barbering qualification in partnership with local barber’s Men Only and CNES. Elspeth said, “We work closely with industry as well as our local employers and CNES to provide flexible training solutions for growth areas or where additional training is required. There are just so many opportunities available within our industry and one that will always be required for those entering into it.”

The new University of the Highlands and Islands new strategy is entitled ‘Daring to be Different’ and as we celebrate our 10th anniversary as a University it is an exciting time of change and development. We have the largest student body in Scotland, with almost 40,000 studying with us each year, and we contribute £560 million annually to the region, indirectly supporting 6,200 jobs. As a multiplier effect, the university puts back £4 for every £1 spent into the economies of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire. Lews Castle College UHI contributes £24 million and supports 230 jobs throughout the Outer Hebrides. 

These figures are just one aspect of how the college supports our community. New research, developing new diverse curriculum and supporting local businesses are all part of the work we do.

Sam’s Barber Shop is now open on Keith Street, Stornoway. You can follow his on Facebook and make an appointment now -

Find out more about our Hairdressing Careers at Lews Castle College UHI

Find out more about our Horticultural Employability Course please email -

Find out more about the University of the Highlands and Islands Strategy for 2021-25