“When I first came to the Centre I could only say hello. Now I can have conversations with people.”
Khaltom moved to the UK in 2009 along with her husband and their nine year old daughter. They had left behind their lives in Iraq to seek a safer life for their daughter. “My country is very beautiful, but it has many problems,” says Khaltom, “I still have family in Iraq and I miss them very much, but it’s not safe there, especially for girls and women.”
Khaltom initially found it very difficult to settle in a country where she didn’t know the language, and shortly after moving here gave birth to her second child, leaving her with very little time to learn English.
However in October 2011, when her daughter was just over a year old, Khaltom was able to enrol for a beginner’s class in spoken English at the Cardinal Hume Centre. She was very nervous. “When I first came to the Centre I could only say hello,” she recalls, “and I didn’t understand anything.” But the teacher and her fellow students were very welcoming and Khaltom soon became a regular attendee in the class.
Over the last four years Khaltom has juggled a growing family with learning English, and has had two of her children whilst attending classes here, taking only a couple of months out at a time. She was delighted when she passed her speaking and listening exams this summer, and has already signed up to start learning how to read and write in English.
“All of my children were born here, apart from the oldest, so they all speak good English. Sometimes they bring me stories from school and I can’t understand them. They say to me, ‘Mummy, help us with our homework’, but I’m stuck. That’s why I want to be able to read and write.”
Khaltom is now having one to one lessons with Alison, one of our volunteer tutors. “In our first lessons we’re going right back to basics and learning the phonetic sounds for each of the letters,” ays Alison. “One of the main barriers for Khaltom is that in Kurdish you don’t read from left to right, so initially it is very difficult to get used to that.”
With Alison’s help Khaltom is confident that one day she’ll be able to help her children with their homework, and read the stories they write for her. Being able to speak English has helped Khaltom integrate into her local community, and has improved her life all round.
“When we first moved here it was very difficult. I said to my husband, ‘I can’t live here, I have to go back to my country’. But since I learnt to speak English life is much better. I can have conversations with people. I can take my children to the GP, and I can talk to their teachers about how they are do
ing at school. I am much happier.”
Khaltom has really benefited from coming to the Centre and her children now attend our after-school clubs and holiday programmes. She is very thankful for having found the help she needed:
“The Cardinal Hume Centre has helped me so much. The teachers here are very nice. They help everyone who comes here; I think it is a very good place.”
Our Learning team help individuals to overcome the barriers which are stopping them from integrating with their communities or finding work. Last year over 200 people benefited from the English and IT classes here. Your donations make this all possible; thank you for your continued support.