New residents welcomed with free English lessons

Social enterprise Enta has boosted community integration in Erdington by holding free basic English classes for anyone who struggles with the language.

The five-month pilot scheme, which has just finished, ran from February at Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre, in Wyrley Birch. The sessions proved such a hit that Enta aims to roll out the course on a permanent basis from September.

Lakeside manager Geraldine Dowling volunteered her own time to trial the two-hour weekly classes, which attracted seven students during its busiest week.

Geraldine said: “Wyrley Birch is a diverse estate and we have many new residents of all nationalities in the area.

“Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre is very much at the heart of the community, and the estate, but it’s clear that for many people a lack of English is a barrier to them integrating fully.

“I thought we should offer some help and the classes touched on everything from the A,B,C and simple numeracy, to basic vocabulary.

“Some of the attendees made real progress and I’m sure it has helped them in their day-to-day lives. We’ve now identified a clear need for a more structured course and we’ve asked for an initial meeting with Birmingham City Council to discuss the possibility of funding.”

Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre is run by Enta CIC and includes a nursery, as well as supporting everyone from working mums and fathers-to-be to job seekers and vulnerable adults.

Enta is a social enterprise and training provider and, as well as the Lakeside centre, it also runs Little Mill Nursery and Top Lock Cafe, at Mill Wharf. Other services include conference and catering facilities – including a halal kitchen – and a landscaping and construction team.

For more information on Lakeside Children’s and Family Learning Centre call 0121 386 6150.

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