We just loved this story of compassion from Rebecca at Trinity Vineyard Church.
“In 2017, Trinity Vineyard Church in London got involved with the Greenwich local authority to step up their commitment of providing homes for Syrian refugee families, in partnership with other local churches and Greenwich Citizens. We were heavily involved with welcoming the first eight Syrian families – regularly visiting them, running social events and supporting their support workers, employed by the local mosque. We also recruited volunteers from across the borough to support the families with learning English and getting to know the area. There are now 20 Syrian families being supported by this scheme – and each one of these families is now well connected.
In July 2019, we hosted a church BBQ – inviting loads of our neighbours and the Syrian families who were part of the scheme. We ended up with 85 people at the BBQ, which was taking place at our house! It was lots of fun, though a little crowded and chaotic! Through our connection with these families, it became evident that there was not much free, accessible English Speaking for Other Languages (ESOL) provision, and for those who were able to attend lessons, there was little opportunity to practice speaking and gain confidence with the language. We are also very aware of how lonely London can be, especially if you don’t have many friends who speak your language.
We contacted a local primary school, (where I was a parent governor) and were able to start an English Club on their premises. Once a week, on a Wednesday morning, we provide refreshments, a corner with toys for children and a theme to stimulate conversation. It is not an English lesson, rather an opportunity for people to practice their English – but also have fun and make friends.
Since English Club started we have had 74 adult and 37 children attendees representing 18 different nationalities join us! The friendships that have been built are precious, not only between volunteers and the participants, but also across the participants. Ladies who would not usually mix or speak to each other are doing so because they have met through English Club.
When lockdown began we could no longer meet in person, so we had to be creative. We started to make short videos and put them on YouTube – sharing about all sorts of topics, from food to our family trees! We then started to gather everyone on WhatApp, inviting the participants to join the group – to text, voice record and film conversation around the topic of the videos that we posted. The WhatsApp group has grown through word of mouth and has 42 participants – and people are not just based locally, but join us from Manchester, Scotland, Sweden and Lebanon too!
Trinity Vineyard Church moved venue just before lockdown, and we are now more local to where English Club is based. We are hoping that the links between English Club and our church will increase, and the invitation into church will be easier as we emerge from this season.”