Students are being offered something new with the chance to volunteer in a UK charity shop.
English and Volunteering is a new course being offered by English UK member Tti School of English in London to EU and Tier 5 students.
Students on the course will help in a charity shop as well as having English lessons. Charity shops are popular in the UK: they sell used clothes, books, DVDs and household goods which have been given to them to raise money.
"We got the idea when we talked to agents in Italy and France, who told us this type of programme was very popular in Canada. We have an Oxfam shop next door to us in Kentish Town, and a bookshop as well, so we approached them to see if we could put a programme together. We've just launched the course so we're waiting to see how it goes," says Melissa Palleschi, Sales and Marketing Executive.
Students on the course have to be aged at least 16, with intermediate skills in English, and they must be prepared to commit to four weeks volunteering in the Oxfam shop for four sessions a week. This is combined with English lessons in either the mornings or the afternoons.
Melissa says many students really want to do more than just English tuition, and this gives them the chance to interact with people in the shop - colleagues as well as shoppers and use their language skills. "It's speaking practice, meeting people in the local community, and being able to give something back," she says.
One former Tti student, Agustina, decided to stay in London to practice her English when her course finished and volunteered with an Oxfam branch, ending up starting the new Kentish Town shop as its first manager. In her blog, she says: "I loved it from the very first day! The people there were so friendly and nice with me, they helped me a lot! There were no Spanish people in that area so that was great for me. My manager who is now my friend Liz, helped me to improve my English and my skills to get ready for a proper job, she was my mentor and I will be always grateful.
"It was for me the best work experience I've ever had. Working for a non profit organisation like Oxfam means much more than simply a job, it is a very rewarding job.
"I'm so proud of my experience at Oxfam. I grew as a person by working for Oxfam. Those four years at Oxfam will be always in my heart. I met amazing people there, not only shop managers as many volunteers became my friends too."
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