Activities Past & Present
Life in UK Course
This group began in December 2007 and finished in June 2008. The group met once a week. The purpose of the group was to learn skills that would enable the participants to pass the Life in the UK Test which is part of a process for naturalisation. The course also improved the participants' English language skills. A free crèche was provided enabling support for carers of young children. The course was run by Peter Thompson, a volunteer from Thames Valley University who was a trainee teacher. Four of the participants passed the Life in the UK Test whilst the course was running and the other members of the group intended to take the test shortly after the course ended.
Mothers and Babies Group
This group ran from January 2008 for 6 weeks. The purpose of this group was to educate the mothers in topics such as weaning, speech development, dental health, preparation for nursery and resuscitation and safety. The group also received a play therapy session in March 2008. A free crèche was offered for this group so that mothers could be supported with their young children. The courses were facilitated by a team of Health Visitors.
Parent Group for Portuguese speaking families
This group began in March 2008. The purpose of this group was to explore communication with teenage children and the issues of managing cross-cultural tensions. The facilitator, Wilma Mangabeira, was a Portuguese speaking systemic therapist from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Following on from the success of this group we aimed to deliver more family work using this model, and in various languages. This was the impetus for the parent group work (see below)
Craft Group for Women
This group began in April 2007 as a knitting group. It went on to incorporate elements of English language improvement through pre-ESOL teaching from the Thames Valley University and took part in jewellery making workshops in collaboration with Community Council for Berkshire. The group met weekly and covered crafts such as knitting, sewing, cooking and card making. The purpose of the group was for isolated ladies to come together, practise their English skills and connect to the network of the group and feel more integrated into the community. In July 2008 the group came together to work with a facilitator from RISC to produce decorations for the Dhoom Damarka festival (part of Asian Arts Week in Reading). In March 2009 the Craft Group restarted with an external facilitator. This group is still running at the current time. From January to February 2012, the group will be funded by a generous donation from a past volunteer, Amreeta Aujayeb.
Basic ESOL classes
This group began in September 2008 and is still running. The group has been run by volunteers who have some ESOL training. The group has consisted of South Asian, Polish and Afghan ladies. This group has enabled practise of the English language as well as basic phrases needed in every day life. The group also received some practise in filling in forms for themselves that they have historically needed help with. The aim has been to give a little independence and confidence to the learners.Today, the class is run by an experienced ESOL teacher assisted by a volunteer.
The counsellors were trained in parent group work in November 2008-February 2009. The first groups started on April 24th 2009 and 2 further groups were planned for May and June 2009. Groups have been run throughout 2009 and 2010. The groups in 2011 have mainly been run in East Reading.
Cross-Cultural Book Club
The Cross-Cultural Book Club was started by volunteers who wanted to share literary experiences of books written from different cultural perspectives. Books that have been discussed, have been 'Taxi' by Khaled al-Khamissi and 'The Other Hand' by Chris Cleave.