January 9, 2018

My first day of volunteering at the Cross Street Church today was great fun, I spent the session with the beginners. We started with little wooden models of famous London landmarks, spread across the table top. Most of the group were very quick to recognise the London Eye and name it, some of the other buildings took a bit of prompting - Big Ben went through a few names, "Big Mac" being one of my favourites. 

We moved onto a ga...

November 6, 2017

I have a scenario to share with you about our session on Tuesday in Islington to highlight the importance and value of training as a new volunteer. One of the exercises of the session had a Halloween theme with all things scary and spooky. Once I introduced myself to the student I paired up with, the first question I was asked was: "Do you believe in witchcraft?" pointing at the figure of a black cat which was meant to be a wi...

October 26, 2017

Joanna, Fatima and I had a meeting to determine how the relationship between Speak Street and CAP was progressing. On our agenda was to find out how she was feeling about CAPs involvement in the program, the integration of our volunteers, and what we wanted to build on going ahead, specifically on the subject of “sensitive subjects”.

When asked about CAPs volunteers, Joanna said she was “overwhelmed” by the response she had had...

October 25, 2017

As thirty-two volunteers and refugee students sit down to practice English language skills after everyone has had a sandwich and poured themselves a cup of tea, the room falls unusually silent.

We are reading through the exercises on our worksheets. The silence is short lived. In a few minutes, the room erupts in excited chatter. I hear snippets of the conversations around me. Thrills me to hear the group get excited about deco...

October 25, 2017

Gender issues from Field mission for Developments in Literacy – Khairpur, rural Sindh
DIL School location: Rind–Nowa (local ngo partner)
Newsrooms skills workshop and the inspiring content the students of DIL’s Rind school generated.
Workshop in Confidence Building, designed to develop and sharpen critical thinking skills and challenge gender issues around a woman’s ability and right to analyse situations and make quick, effectiv...

October 18, 2017

"You burn body of man in Guy Fawkes fire."

"You lie."

These aren't accusations, although you could perceive them as such. But they aren't the kind of statements I was prepared to hear as we sat down to English language practice.

I was seated between Emmanuel from Congo, Ronin from Sri Lanka, Angel from Congo and another lady (who will go unnamed) as we begin our discussion on UK festivals, ways to participate in our communit...

October 18, 2017

We are at the Kindness Initiative in Kings Cross and I am seated between four individuals two young Congolese girls, an elderly Syrian gentleman and a Kurdish man, perhaps thirty years old.

Using a worksheet an English teacher handed us called ‘Leisure activities in the UK’ we discuss football, sky diving, deep sea diving and golfing and paintballing. The worksheet is covered in comics that visually articulate the concept.

The q...

October 18, 2017

"I only speaking Tamil, only I speak English here. But I want to try," he reassures me.

We are using a worksheet that looks like a game and we need to move through a spiral like maze to ask each other what we enjoy, or, as the title says, what our favourite movies, music, hobbies, passions, etc are. A simple enough exercise, but the answers it unearths leave me disheartened.

The story of his journey inwards, his path to isolatio...

October 18, 2017

An attack by evil spirits is not something we had been prepared to discuss on a sunny fall afternoon, but there it was.

We had been strolling through the European Jewellery gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum with our refugee student crew, when Rebecca (from Congo) said: “I like jewellery but I don’t wear it, you don’t know what spirit is inside, many witch they make the spirit inside the jewellery then who wears it can d...

October 18, 2017

Our Tuesday session was on local and domestic issues; reading from worksheets. We broke away into smaller groups, 2 volunteers to 5 or 6 students each. The session was about local and domestic issues, from council and rubbish to conflict resolution; but one question stood out from the others. The question which was along the lines of “what should you do if you and your wife are going through a rough patch”. This simple questio...

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