Why is this project needed?
The 2011 Birmingham census shows that in some areas in the city up to 49% of the adult population (aged 25 to 64) have poor communication and literacy skills. This can be down to a variety of reasons such as learning difficulties, not engaging well with school, being a new arrival in the country, living in poverty or suffering from social isolation.
We rely on our speech, language and communication skills daily.
- Being unemployed, because you cannot read the job adverts.
- Not being able to attend interviews because you aren’t confident in speaking.
- Being excluded from support available to you, as you are unable to read the information provided.
- The isolation of not being able to talk to your neighbours or make new friends with similar interests.
- Feeling you don’t have the skill or confidence to join a class to get the skills you need.
- Feeling like education won’t work for you, because it hasn’t in the past.
- Not being able to ask for help when you most need it.
People across Birmingham face these challenges daily.
The great news is that we know how to help.
What will we do?
We plan to offer free, one-to-one communication skills lessons to the people of Birmingham who need them. These lessons will give them the basic skills and confidence to be able to engage with education, helping them access training and employment opportunities across Birmingham.
Gaining these skills will also help combat social isolation, allowing these adults to be part of their local communities and contribute to the future of our city. Being able to offer one-to-one sessions gives us an advantage over classes, it avoids the stigma many people feel about having to learn basic skills in front of their peers.
How will it work?
To support the learners, we will be using a piece of software we have used on previous projects, that has proven to be effective in helping teach English communication and literacy skills to people of varied ages and backgrounds. The targeted diagnostic tool allows us to work with learners to reveal the language gaps that are holding them back. Breaking down barriers to employment and education by solving the communication and literacy difficulties that prevent learners from accessing jobs; passing interviews and engaging with courses, also helping to combat social isolation. Always working at the learner’s pace.
Lessons last an hour and are delivered weekly. On average 10 hours are needed to see sufficient progress, although some people will need more or fewer lessons based on their needs and progress.
The lessons will be delivered by our instructor who has 26 years of experience in education in special schools, mainstream education and delivering this intervention to young people and adults. “All my adult life I have been involved in helping the folks of Birmingham learn and succeed. Working with Fluence Foundation on this project will mean we can bring support to those that need it most. Communication barriers have such a massive negative effect on people’s lives. Everything we do needs us to be able to read, write and speak to others. To most of us, this is a basic skill we take for granted.”
We have a training room in the Jewellery Quarter that we can use to deliver the lessons from. This puts us close to the areas of the city with the highest populations of adults with low English skills. It is also a central enough location that anyone from around the city can access it.
We are seeking partner organisations around the city based in the areas, who will be able to refer people to us. This will be important as often the people we want to help cannot find out about us from traditional methods. Local community knowledge is important to make sure we can offer the best support to the right people. We will still be advertising the project through traditional methods as friends, family and members of the communities will be able to refer people they know who need the help.
How long will the project run?
That will depend on the money. £6,500 will allow us to run for 3 months. More money will mean an extended project, which will be able to help more people.
What will be the benefit?
Think back to the bullet points you read above, if you are in that situation then you are trapped, and this project will be a lifeline out of that situation. Once we give the basic skills to people, they are able to be independent and will then be able to move onto a better life. The intervention we deliver is a great stepping-stone on to accessing education and qualifications or employment. There are mental health benefits to not feeling isolated and being able to engage with your community.
Beyond the personal benefits is the benefit to the city, having more citizens able to engage, learn and work will help reduce the strain on the city's resources and encourage growth.