Government boosts TimeBank's volunteer English teaching project

TimeBank’s hugely successful English teaching project – Talking Together - has been boosted with a further quarter of a million pounds from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

In November 2013, the national volunteering charity was awarded £1.12 million from DCLG to bring English language learning into the heart of the community and encourage long-term residents with little or no knowledge of English to take a full part in British life.

Since then Talking Together has recruited and trained 90 volunteers and worked with 14 community organisations to deliver informal and flexible English language teaching that has transformed the lives of more than 1,000 people across the West Midlands.

Many of the learners are Muslim women aged 19-40 from the Bangladeshi, Somali and Pakistani communities whose new-found English skills are enabling them to do vital, everyday things like visit the doctor or communicate with their children’s schools.

Not speaking English can lead to isolation and make it hard for people to take a full part in British life. The 2011 census figures showed that across England 1.7% of the population have either no, or poor spoken English, rising to 9% in some London boroughs.

The new award will enable TimeBank to expand its language project across the Midlands, launch new projects in London and reach 414 more learners, supporting more than 1,700 non-English speakers in total.            

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of TimeBank said: “This award recognises TimeBank’s considerable expertise in delivering volunteer projects that tackle complex social issues and support our most marginalised residents. It shows the vital role that committed volunteers can play in building strong, united communities – and the value of working with local community organisations to reach non-English speakers who are traditionally hard to reach.”

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “Everybody in Britain, whatever their background, should have an equal chance to thrive. This funding boost will create a fairer society and make sure that everyone has the chance to get on in life through learning English.”

“Being able to speak English can changes lives – it enables people to make friends, build strong ties with their local communities, take informed decisions about health and education, and to get on in life by opening the door to the workplace.”

Communities Minister Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “Already, just one year into these fantastic community-based English language projects, we have helped thousands of people take a more active role in British life. This new funding will help us reach even more.

“It is vital that everyone is able to read and write in English, which is why we have also asked councils to stop translating documents into foreign languages. Such translation diverts taxpayers’ money away from frontline services, and actively discourages integration. Learning English is essential to get a job, and move on and up in life.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

• TimeBank is a national volunteering charity, started in 2000. It recruits and trains volunteers to deliver mentoring projects to tackle complex social problems and also works with businesses to engage their staff in volunteering.

• TimeBank believes that great volunteering can transform the lives of both volunteers and beneficiaries by building stronger, happier and more inclusive communities.

For media information, contact Julia Shipston: julias@timebank.org.uk tel: 020 3111 0721/0771 3163003.