The Ummeed Group works to improve the English of its members who are learning it as a second language. Using foundation reading books, the group aims to encourage the reading and speaking abilities of its members in a safe and friendly environment.
Many of the women in the group have little time to learn these essential communication skills due to the rules of their family. Some of the women also feel too anxious to leave the house or socialise with others in their community as they don’t feel confident in their ability to communicate.
The Ummeed group helps these women to break down the barriers in their lives and increase their social skills and social circle alongside learning valuable life skills. With a grant of £3,525 from the AESSEAL Charitable Trust Community First Endowment Fund for South Yorkshire contributing to the project costs, the Ummeed group has been able to purchase appropriate reading books and cover the cost of a tutor and room hire costs so that sessions could run from September 2018 to Summer 2019.
Apart from the paid tutor, all other staff members are volunteers who work to improve the confidence of their members and inspire them to achieve more.
Another project run by Ummeed is geared towards teaching women how to use tablets and other IT equipment. Seeing the success of both projects and the similarities between the two, the group decided to combine them. This has proved to be very successful and has increased the number of participants to 10. The changes made to each participants quality of life has been huge.
Kathy, an Ummeed group worker said:
“Two of our ladies were very isolated and each lived on their own. They had very limited social circles and not much confidence. After coming to our reading sessions they struck up a friendship and now meet outside our group for lunch. They’ve both become so much more confident, it’s lovely to see.”
Combining the reading and IT sessions have resulted in more socialisation between members. The sessions are often split into two groups with one half reading books and the other half using tablets.
They then swap over for the second half of the session so that everyone gets a chance to improve each of their skill sets. In addition to learning IT skills, the ladies have learned to use the tablets to read and some have even gone on to buy a tablet for themselves.
The foundations of the sessions set by the reading group have proved to be inspiring and have helped the ladies to become more confident with other aspects of their lives. For example, many now feel more confident in social situations and more able to understand and communicate with the world around them. Furthermore, basic reading skills learned from the books provided thanks to the SYCF grant funding has helped with the basic English needed to understand and fully engage with their IT sessions and tablet use.
Looking to the future, Ummeed aims to run more IT sessions for group members. The reading group provides a good foundation for further life-skills for the members but as the modern world is more focused on technology, the Ummeed group will move with the times and begin to focus more on technology and IT skills once members have progressed from the reading classes.