About African Relief Support
At African Relief Support our mission is to prevent and relieve poverty and improve the lives of people in the local community. We were established at the start of 2020 and have been providing support for those in the community who have been most impacted by the pandemic. Our services help various deprived and vulnerable groups within our society such as asylum seekers, refugees, single parents, children, those at risk of poverty, and unemployed people. We have a varied range of projects that we offer; however, the central focus for all is providing a service our beneficiaries would otherwise not have access to.
We also promote equality and diversity by focusing on the integration of Black and Minority Ethnic people into the wider society within Scotland whilst advocating against discrimination, marginalisation, stereotypes, and social exclusion. Our founder and most of our board are BAME and the majority of our beneficiaries are too.
About Our ESOL Project
One of our projects is providing volunteer-led classes in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). This is a service predominantly used by those of our beneficiaries seeking asylum who are wanting to learn English in order to gain the confidence to integrate into the local community. Our classes first started in January 2021 during the lockdown when we found that there were no English classes available to asylum seekers. It was only meant to be a temporary programme however we found that there is a great need for these classes and now have over 40 students. As a result of this demand, we have expanded this programme and have thirteen volunteers teaching English online. We offer a number of classes each week for all different levels. Our beginner students are offered 1-2-1 lessons for the first few weeks and then are put in small groups of 3-4 students. Our more advanced classes have no more than 8 students. This will allow us to run a number of classes at the same time allowing more students the opportunity to study English.
Our students come from all over the world but are predominantly from North-east Africa. These classes allow the students to learn English in a safe space. We hope that by assisting them with their English they will have a higher chance of having their asylum granted. Furthermore, learning English will allow them to have access to employment or further education once their asylum is granted. Our students are unable to apply for jobs or college until they have a certain level of English and/or have their asylum granted and so these English classes are crucial for them.
The Impact of Covid-19 & How You Can Help
Our classes are currently held online over Zoom and WhatsApp due to the pandemic. Being online has been challenging for our students as they have not always had suitable devices to join the classes. Many of our students have been staying in hotels during the pandemic, meaning their Wi-Fi connection can be very unreliable, this means they miss information during the classes or are unable to join the classes altogether.
As pandemic restrictions are easing we are looking to return to in-person teaching. We hope that having ESOL classes in person will be more beneficial for the students. We would like to purchase a few laptops which would be permanently in the classroom. This would allow more students access to the internet as they could use the laptops during their class and therefore, we hope their English will improve swiftly.
We would also like to help to provide the supplies necessary to facilitate their learning outside of the classroom. This would include providing pens, paper and worksheets and homework packs for the students so that they can work on their English at home even if they do not have Wi-Fi. This would allow our students to progress in their English studies faster as they can continue their work outside of class. Furthermore, those who have unreliable access to Wi-Fi could continue their work even if they are unable to attend online classes.
The Impact For Our Students
These English classes have not only helped the students to learn English but also has provided them with a structure to their daily routine and an activity to keep them motivated during the pandemic. We want to be able to continue to support our students as best we can. For many of our students, their experience of the community is severely limited by their lack of English. Access to English classes can make a huge impact on their lives as they can give them access to employment and education opportunities. Furthermore, being able to speak English will help their transition and integration into the local community. We also hope it will increase the likelihood of having their asylum granted.
Any contribution you can make to our work would be greatly appreciated. The money you give will make a real difference in the lives of our students and will help them gain confidence as well as security in our community.
Thank you so much for your help!