More than 1,000 Birmingham women are waiting for the chance to learn English – and volunteering charity TimeBank is calling on local volunteers to help them.
TimeBank holds free, informal classes in community settings for long term UK residents who cannot speak the language.
In Birmingham, 4.6% of the population has poor or no English (source: DCLG). Many are women from the Bangladeshi, Somali and Pakistani communities and without language skills, they can feel isolated and cut off from society.
The charity has already recruited and trained more than 60 volunteer English teachers for its Talking Together language project in Birmingham, and there are 18 free classes underway in local neighbourhoods. But 1,100 women are still waiting for the chance to learn.
Such is the demand for the classes that the charity urgently needs more volunteers, both to train as language teachers and act as mentors to support the learners to develop their English, or pursue training, employment or skills.
Dave Conroy, programme manager at TimeBank in Birmingham, says: “Language skills are vital to build strong, united communities and without them, people can feel side-lined. They won’t be able to chat to teachers about a child, visit the doctor or hospital, go shopping or get to know neighbours for example. This can make them feel very vulnerable.”
Volunteers will receive full training before being matched with a class in a local community setting. No special skills or experience are required, just patience, commitment and enthusiasm.
Dave Conroy adds: “The training and experience will provide volunteers with real skills in teaching, English language learning and classroom management. This would be an ideal opportunity for anyone wanting to pursue a career in adult education, ESOL, or community work.”