We’re highlighting some of the inspiring Civil Society case studies gathered for our ‘Connecting Cranes with Communities, How can the WMCA Create Inclusive Growth’ report (download here) – these case studies show the range of activity taking place across the region that could be scaled up and invested in to support the creation of a more inclusive economy.

WHAT
‘Case Study 38’ looked at Fircroft College’s (link) an award-winning ‘Talk English’ project in Birmingham. The project aims to develop the English language skills of those whose level to date is low. It is a volunteer-led and community-focused project scheme that offers free English lessons for speakers of other languages within local areas. Courses to date have been located across the Birmingham area including inner city areas of Handsworth, Hockley, Digbeth, Small Heath, Smethwick and Ladywood which has made learning more accessible to individuals and communities.

Fircroft College of Adult Education was awarded funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to deliver Talk English.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES
To support engagement of Beginner level (Pre Entry/Entry 1) for people with little to no levels of English within the local area.

KEY PARTNERS
Fircroft College and MHCLG; some of the local community organisations who support the delivery include: Suited for Success, Nishkam Civic Association, Piers Road New Communities Association Centre Birmingham Vineyard Church, Bolden Ltd, Refugee Action, Spring Housing Ltd, Rise, Black Country Women’s Aid, Meena Centre and Muath Trust.

WHAT LESSONS LEARNT HAVE INFORMED THIS PROJECT
Working in the community has been pivotal to the Talk English Project. Learning has to be accessible to enable us to reach potential learners who are harder to engage with. There is also a huge demand to gain teaching experience in Birmingham which has been demonstrated through consistently high volunteer numbers.

RESULTS
Nearly 300 learners since September 2017 with 20 courses running in 2017/18 and new courses planned for 2019. 40 volunteers. Learners from nearly 25 different countries.

IMPACTS
Learners have improved confidence in their English language skills, moving on to further education or gaining volunteering placements. The key impact for learners is confidence: many of whom we work with have 71 low confidence, face social isolation, are unemployed and are based in new communities.

Volunteers have gained confidence and teaching experience with many of them moving into further education and training or securing employment.

WHAT WENT WELL?
Upskilling of volunteers. Partnership building with local community organisations.

WHAT NEEDED TO BE IMPROVED?
Connectivity – this is a small-scale project which can be up-scaled relatively easily but needs to be aligned to existing services so it can reach those who are in need of English language support and for a more progressive and holistic approach.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO OTHERS DOING SIMILAR PROJECTS
Collaboration is key and local focus is essential.

Find out more about the project https://www.fircroft.ac.uk/talk-english

Download the full report http://localisewestmidlands.org.uk/project/wmcsf/

Photo by Marko Pekić on Unsplash