The Eddie Byers Fund: helping refugees to read in Bristol
14 November 2017

A project supporting refugees' reading skills is the fourth recipient of the Eddie Byers Fund Awards for 2017.

Bristol Refugee Rights runs a drop-in day centre three times a week, with English classes at seven different levels. But people often need more support with reading, says director Beth Wilson.

"We want to get age-appropriate, adult beginner reading books and resources that we'll be able to use again and again, and with that a crèche session to support the classes on the course so parents with children can still engage. There's a lack of ESOL with crèche in Bristol so that's a really important element – it bars people from going to college so that's a really important part of the service."

The reading classes are likely to attract a maximum of 20 people for a four-week course, with some 1-2-1 support outside the sessions, she says.

"We will advertise a four-week course specifically on reading, and try and get people to commit to coming. The more time you can put into advertising, the more it really pays off as lots of clients have really chaotic lives and so many things going on that while learning to read in English is really important, it's not easy to prioritise when there's a million and one other things going on."

Bristol Refugee Rights has been running since 2006, and operates drop-in sessions each week where clients can have a cup of tea, make friends and play games. They will also have their English level assessed with a trained volunteer or staff member, who will advise which level class to join.

They will also be supported to access college courses if that is an option, and otherwise will be kept informed about upcoming courses at the correct English level.

Beth says some clients have had very successful careers in their home countries, including doctors, head teachers and university professors. Some want to practice for Ielts, to raise their standard by a point or half point so that they can get into the level of qualification they need to get into their profession in the UK. Others have had almost no education in their home country.

previous entry << >> next entry