I started as the Project Co-ordinator for our Talking Together project in Birmingham and Leicester in August. In previous jobs I have worked with volunteers but not to the extent that this one requires. I have quickly found that meeting and getting to know my volunteers is a real highlight.
I have been overwhelmed by the calibre of volunteers who have wanted to give their time and skills to become voluntary English Language Trainers. We have had a range of volunteers from various backgrounds, cultures, religions and education history but they all have one thing in common – they are passionate about supporting marginalised women in their communities.
I usually meet with volunteers after they have submitted their application forms, for an informal chat about the project, the role and to get to know more about their motivation, skills and experience. This could be a quick chat, but it often takes an hour over a coffee, as I find myself impressed each time by just how genuine and passionate they are about volunteering for TimeBank.
When I started recruiting volunteers, I didn’t anticipate the level of dedication I would come across. Many of our volunteers are in employment, and given that the Talking Together classes take place during school hours on weekdays, many have rearranged their work pattern, used flexi-time and even taken annual leave to ensure they could attend training and deliver the course.
Birmingham volunteers are due to start teaching in the next couple of weeks, however the classes in Leicester are fully underway and I have had the pleasure of watching the volunteers in action! It has been amazing to see their personal development, increase in confidence and the relationship they have built with their students. I have watched them develop their teaching abilities, and this reflects the developing English skills of the learners.
We are half way through the course, and it has been lovely to hear that all of the volunteers are eager to continue teaching on the Talking Together project in the New Year. I truly feel privileged to have the opportunity to meet, and work alongside these wonderful volunteers!
Talking Together is TimeBank’s exciting volunteering project in London, Birmingham and Leicester. It offers informal spoken language training to long-term UK residents who have little or no knowledge of English. Our practical input really can help transform someone's life, open doors and contribute to community integration. If you'd like to know more, take a look here.