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Norwich charity's fast-growing literacy work

CANLiteracy4202011: An adult literacy programme with refugees and asylum-seekers is the fastest-growing area of the work of Christian charity Community Action Norwich based in Lakenham. Project manager Clare Elkins reports.

Our rapidly-growing Adult Literacy Programme is under the leadership of Pam Leslie a retired head teacher and a family court magistrate. Pam has two other teachers working as volunteers on her team.
Classes are held three times a week working with refugees and asylum seekers teaching spoken English. They come from 13 countries and share their different cultures, national foods and talk about their distinctive festivals.
The team share about our Christian Festivals at Christmas and Easter. The classes are held in the Lakenham Primary School which is delighted with the impact on the families of children who attend their school.
The women are now more confident to go into the local community, they can use the telephone to make appointments with the doctor’s surgery, and communicate with the school without needing their children to be there as an interpreter. They have had a taster session on English law from the police diversity officer, and other similar sessions are planned for the near future.
Three ladies are now working as volunteers in our day centre and with the help of their teachers are looking to produce a ‘Living Heritage’ booklet in which they will talk to and record the life experiences of older people, documenting some of the cultural changes they have lived through.
The bond of friendship which has grown between the students and teachers is strong and mutually beneficial. The women all agree that their confidence has grown and their quality of life is enhanced as they feel more integrated into the local community. Some who now have English citizenship are even contemplating the next step of seeking employment enabling them to become financially independent.
This is a flavour of just one of our programmes. We have a community allotment and we also work with children, young people, families, vulnerable and abused women and the elderly. Our biggest asset is our team of volunteers without whom many of our programmes could not run.
Have you ever thought of volunteering? It is a known fact that volunteering will improve your health and well-being as well as help you to make new friends and have a sense of purpose in your life. You would be welcome to join any of our teams. Training and management supervision will be given by people who are passionate about helping those living with disadvantage and poverty.
Think it over and if you want to know more please contact Clare Elkins on 01603 617771 or email


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