A project to bring nationalities in Govanhill together and develop English language skills has been hailed a huge success.
Around 90 residents of 15 nationalities have taken part in packed-out sessions of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) café.
The final graduation ceremony was held last night (Thursday 17 December) – the day before International Migrants Day – with participants awarded a certificate of achievement for taking part in the eight-week pilot. The evening event also involved a celebration meal, arts and crafts activities and music.
The café was run by Govanhill Housing Association’s subsidiary, Govanhill Community Development Trust (GCDT), with financial support from Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Clyde College and Community Renewal. GCDT Chairperson Lyn Ewing said:
“It is particularly appropriate that the café sessions ended and the celebration took place immediately before the United Nations’ International Migrants Day. The café and evening events have been hugely successful in bringing together different nationalities and celebrating different cultures.
“As well as helping to form real friendships, the café has taught local residents valuable English and literacy skills, which will help them in their everyday lives and hopefully open up employment opportunities.”
She added that, following the success of the pilot project, talks were taking place with funders and partners to explore how to continue to deliver the café sessions in 2016.
The café provides play and crèche facilities for younger children and a hot meal is served up by the local multicultural cookery social enterprise, Fusion Bites. Local musicians and Big Noise Govanhill have provided music. Songs have also been used to develop English skills.
Eight day sessions and two evening celebrations have been held in Daisy Street Church. Around 120 people attended a joint St Andrew’s Day and St Nicholas’ Day ceilidh earlier this month.
One of the participants, Dana Balogova, 42, from Govanhill, has attended all eight weeks of the course. The hotel housekeeper said:
“Without good English it is difficult to find work or get promotion so it is always important for people to improve their language skills. The classes have been great – both my written and spoken English are now better.”
Her sister-in-law, Jozefina Balogova, also 42 and from Govanhill, explained that they both moved to Glasgow from Slovakia eight years ago. Her two teenage children are now fluent in English and have helped her with her language skills. She added:
“The café and evening events are also great social occasions, particularly because they are for children as well as adults. We really appreciate that they are here.”
Glasgow Life, Daisy Chain Early Years Project, Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church, GAP Childcare and 15 local volunteers have also been involved in delivering the project.