What started out as a practical English Language support group now helps children with their homework and adults studying for their IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam. Over 60 refugees have benefitted from the support provided by students at The English Conversation Group and North East Solidarity and Teaching (NEST).
The English Conversation Group started 18 months ago and initially took place one afternoon a week. It now runs on two days at the Nunsmoor Centre in Fenham. Classes are informal, with students working on a practical one to one basis with refugees.
Phil Hay is Volunteer Coordinator at Newcastle University Students’ Union and has worked on the development of both projects. He said: “The impact of the group has been really positive. What might seem like small things, such as making a doctor’s appointment, communicating with teachers at parents’ evenings and just being able to say a friendly hello to neighbours, have made real difference to the refugees’ life and their integration into the city.
“At Newcastle University Students’ Union we have noticed an increase in students keen to lend their time to projects which support humanitarian and social issues. NEST is an example of this; the project grew from the English Conversation Group when students observed that adults and their children would benefit from study support.”
NEST currently takes place on a weekly basis at Newcastle University Students’ Union and helps children with their homework and adults studying for their IELTS exams.
Bridget Stratford, a third year Psychology student at Newcastle University and volunteer with NEST said: "I love being able to connect with refugees and let them know that they are welcome here in our city. I've wanted to do something to help and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with NEST because it allows you to be really involved in making a difference. It makes me really happy when the women who I usually work with come in and hug me, they are always so grateful and they feel like we are there for them."
Press release and images with thanks to Newcastle University Students' Union.
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