Reading Secures Funding for English Language Skills Project

A PROJECT to help improve English language skills among the town’s migrant population has been awarded government funding of nearly £400,000.

Reading Borough Council successfully bid for the cash from the Department for Communities and Local Government, in partnership with New Directions, Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) and Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG).

The three organisations have been awarded a total of £390,181 over two years for three separate strands of the English Language Support to Employment project.

Adult learning service New Directions will provide fully-funded regulated ESOL courses leading to formal qualifications for 100 learners.

RCLC will provide less formal learning for black and minority ethnic women which will focus on improving confidence with speaking and listening skills and an understanding of British laws, history and values.

RRSG provides a drop-in centre with support from case-workers and other volunteers who will provide services such as conversation groups and homework clubs.

The three parts of the programme aim to improve language skills of those seeking employment and utilise the skills of many well-qualified migrants who are currently in low paid work. It will also enable people from minority communities to participate more fully in society.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said:

I am delighted Reading Borough Council has received this DCLG award which will benefit the whole town.

“Reading has a proud history of welcoming people from a wide range of backgrounds and the courses this grant funds will give individuals the opportunity to play a fuller part in their local community.

“As well as New Directions providing courses leading to qualifications, the funding will allow Reading Community Learning Centre to hold informal classes and Reading Refugee Support Group to offer a range of services, such as homework clubs.

“Language can be a serious barrier to progressing in life and this project will help individuals grow in confidence and open the door to employment and better paid jobs.”

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“Reading enjoys a buoyant economy and good job opportunities but sometimes people cannot take advantage of these chances because of their poor English language skills.

“The funding from the DCLG will allow New Directions to hold courses which will lead to recognised qualifications for individuals who are seeking work in areas where there are known skills shortages.

“New Directions already provides an excellent learning service for adults in Reading and this funding will allow even more people to take advantage of the learning opportunities available.”

Mrs Aisha Malik, Manager for Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) said:

“RCLC has a long history of welcoming migrant and refugee women from all over the world and from the local area, onto informal classes which help them not only improve their English language skills but builds friendship across cultures, increases confidence and self-esteem and promotes positive health and wellbeing. This gives the women hope that they will achieve their goals.

“This funding will enable RCLC to increase the number of language classes, to engage and reach out to more women, as well as provide much needed crèche support without which many women would not be able to learn.”

Sarah del Tufo, the chair of trustees, welcomed the grant, saying: “The extra classes will help the women be able to talk to their children’s teachers, visit the doctor on their own and start to become active Reading citizens.”

Nick Harborne, Manager of Reading Refugee Support Group, said:

“RRSG has been supporting refugees for over 23 years.  One of the most important areas of support we can offer people is learning English.  People’s ability to integrate into the wider Reading community, to be able to benefit from it and to contribute to it, rests on people’s ability to speak English. 

“RRSG has experienced an increase of 39% in new clients in Reading alone this year.  There is increasing demand for our support services and we are delighted to be part of this successful bid, alongside RBC and RCLC.  It will help us work with other partners across the Thames Valley and put in place more conversational classes and more homework clubs for our clients’ children.”

Notes to Editors

New Directions has been awarded £99,120, RCLC £76,680 and RRSG £18,864 per year for 2017/18 and 2018/19 from the DCLG’s Controlling Migration Fund.

David Millward

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