Last week we celebrated the end of a fantastic year of English lessons at Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network. Over the past year, EERN has provided 42 hours of English lessons each week to over 130 students. These lessons take place at the Ukrainian Hub in Epsom, which is a space that is generously shared with us by our partner, Surrey Stands With Ukraine.
One of our students, Iryna, has been attending English lessons for nine months now – sometimes up to five times per week. Iryna told us that she feels these lessons have really contributed to building her confidence and wellbeing.
“I would like to say thank you very much that I can visit English Classes. It is very helpful for communication. The first time when I started, I only understood the teachers through translation app but now I can talk and understand. I work in childcare with an English family and look after the children. It has helped me with communicating and doing my job. It has helped to adapt to living in the UK. It is good to have such opportunity to have English classes. More people are starting to talk and communicate, and it gives great confidence.”
Our English classes are only one part of the picture, though. Over the past year, the Ukrainian Hub has become a vibrant environment, where a diverse community of people who speak many different languages can come together to socialise, learn, and receive support based on their individual needs, goals and circumstances. The activities and support we provide include help desk advise on various matters around living in the UK, support in finding housing and employment, and support to families to understand and navigate the UK school system – as well as activities such as Art Therapy and Mindfulness. So as we celebrate the end of the school year, we are also celebrating the community that has been built alongside the English lessons, and all those who have come together to create it.
Over the Summer, many families will continue to enjoy support by attending a Summer Camp in Leatherhead, which has been pulled together by EERN with partner organisations Activate Surrey, Activate Learning and our own volunteers. We will also be holding limited English lessons in Epsom from 24 July to 9 August, and our twice weekly Help Desk will remain open. So the Hub will continue to be a busy and bustling place!
We wish our students and volunteers a lovely summer break, and look forward to opening our doors to a new year of English lessons from September 11th!
This blog was written by Jessica Brooks, Refugee Network Coordinator