Church’s English language lessons – can you help?

Twice a week, St Aidan’s and Trinity United in Harehills (Leeds) are transformed into a lively multicultural community where people from all over the world come to learn English and make friends.

The Revd Diana Zanker has been Project Leader of the English lessons since they began over nine years ago. She says, “We’ve grown from 4 students to 80, and have a big waiting list. There’s a huge need, largely because government cuts mean there’s now very little English language provision.”

The students are mainly asylum seekers and refugees, who come from countries such as Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Angola. Diana adds, “Many have suffered persecution as a result of political and religious beliefs, and their journeys here are often traumatic. But the English lessons can be life changing and some go on to attend college classes and even return to help as volunteers. One woman, who was almost mute because of her experience in Eritrea, now runs the crèche we provide for students.

“As Christians we want to offer hospitality and practical help. We also arrange day trips to the countryside and seaside, which they really appreciate - it’s great to see them beaming and saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m in England!’"

Diana is now looking for a new Project Leader. She says, “I’m well past retirement age and haven’t been too well lately so I need to hand over to someone else. The role is unpaid, but the post holder can apply for funding for a salary.”

The classes are taught by one ESOL teacher and 21 volunteers (with beginners, intermediate and advanced students in different groups). Some of the lessons take place at Trinity United Church in Harehills.

If you’re interested in the Project Leader role, or would like to support in some other way, please contact Revd Diana Zanker: diana [at] (email) or  07882 558717.




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