Being in a new country and unable to communicate with those outside of your immediate circle because of a language barrier is extraordinarily limiting. So, too, is being illiterate in a literate society. Many of the clients at the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers, London, UK have to deal with one or both of these problems, and it is with this aspect of the SDCAS’ work that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation has become involved.
The Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers was set up in 1997 by a group of English language teachers, community leaders and social workers to create a space where destitute asylum seekers in the London Borough of Southwark could receive advice on immigration and health, get a nourishing hot meal or even just socialise.
Integration is one of the main aims of the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers and so they offer English language classes at all three of their locations, teaching the sort of English that will allow their clients to cope better with everyday situations For some it is the only opportunity to speak English they have all week. Many of the people who attend have difficulty enrolling in the classes at local colleges because of fees or a lack of creche places; SDCAS runs a creche during English lessons which allows all clients to participate should they so wish. The English teachers give their time voluntarily and do not get paid.
Unfortunately, funding for materials has been severely lacking, and it has not been possible for SDCAS to buy any textbooks, even dictionaries, for some time now. The rooms used as classrooms have been similarly under-equipped. The £500 donation from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation, therefore, is being used to provide new teaching materials and equipment such as books and whiteboards.
Recommended by Heather Belgorodtseva, h2g2.com’s Community Representative to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.