A spotlight on our volunteers Our 110 Stories continues with our volunteers from the Talk English and Midlands Engine projects that we run here at Fircroft. Our volunteers have progressed on to amazing things, and they love the sense of community that volunteering with us brings. This story focuses on Fatima, and her successes as a volunteer. - Hi my name is Fatima. I have been a student at Fircroft for many years now and it is the amazing experience that always brings me back. I have always had a passion for teaching and encouraging development and growth in others. I found out about the Talk English Project during my IAG session with Lee and it was clear that volunteering for the Talk English Project was my next best step. I had a meeting with Neena back in January 2018 and it was here that my journey as a Talk English Leader started. I have always been involved in the education sector and my last role was Placement Coordinator and Assessor for a company who delivered apprenticeships. I had experience of assessing and delivering Functional Skills up to level 2, delivering employability workshops to large groups at schools, Job Centres and Careers Fairs. I had a fair bit of experience already and I was very keen on leading the sessions. Not only was this great experience for me on a practical level, but it was meant that I was able to put this on my CV. As a Talk English volunteer, I managed individuals who came from all walks of life, of all ages and abilities. I was quite confident in my role and I successfully completed 2 cohorts in 2018. I was able to adapt my teaching to suit the needs of the learners. I involved my learners in the learning so that it was more meaningful for them. I encouraged my learners to “be the teacher” to recap on topics, which not only helped with their language and speaking, but it also helped other core skills too. For example, confidence, self-esteem, self-believe and to take their learning to the next step. I also encouraged positive feedback from other learners. It was clear by the end of the cohort the distinct difference from when each learner started, to the amazing confident independent women they became at the end of the course. Even to do something as simple as buying an item from a shop, that so many of us take for granted. I feel incredibly proud of every one of my learners and I hope that each learner continues to flourish, grow and to use the skills that they have learnt in the classroom in their everyday lives. I will encourage anyone who is interested in teaching or looking to re-ignite their passion for teaching to become involved with the Talk English Project. Not only do you get fantastic encouragement and opportunities, but you also become part of a community of teachers all striving for the same goals. Thanks to Neena I was enrolled onto the AET Level 3, where I have learned some fantastic assessment methods which I have used in my classroom. In particularly peer to peer assessment and group work have been incredibly useful. My two biggest achievements post volunteering for the Talk English Project is that I am currently working as Assistant National Coordinator for NATECLA where I get to work with ESOL Coordinators and teachers of English and community languages across the UK, all with the same vision for impact and positive change for learners in BAMER communities and beyond. I am also incredibly proud to say that I have almost completed my first year of University studying a BA in English Language and Literature. This would be a great opportunity for me to thank Neena Chauhan, Angela Bate and Lee Goodway for being so congruent in my journey from start to end. I hope that they, continue to inspire and re-light the passion for teaching and professional development in others, as they have done so with me. - Next up, we have Soukaina. Soukaina Bennani works for Fircroft College as a Volunteer Coordinator on our Talk English project. Soukaina has made leaps and bounds working with us, and her story is utterly compelling. Soukaina hasn’t always been involved in adult education, rather her background is working with children. Amongst her impressive credentials is that she has taught both Arabic and English to non-native speakers; no easy task but one that Soukaina has relished with confidence and aplomb. In her own words, Soukaina talks us through her journey and shares her successes, passions and dreams. I came to the UK in 2008 and then came to Fircroft College as a Talk English volunteer in 2017. I’m passionate about teaching, especially teaching as a foreign language. Talk English isn’t the only project I’ve worked on. When I was back home, in Morocco, I worked as a nursery nurse and as a teacher teaching Arabic to non-native speakers. I guess education has always been a passion of mine in some sense; whether that’s with children, helping them grow and develop, or now working with adults. I did the fast track teacher training course because I was enthusiastic about making a difference in the community and newly arrived communities in the UK and fighting against the stereotype of women who cannot speak English. I was disappointed that there was such a high figure of women who can’t speak English and I wanted to be a representative for that community and really show the benefits of learning English. I wanted to inspire and support these isolated women and challenge them to see their own potential and how much they can actually learn. That was my motivation to make a difference. I also wanted to increase my personal development and this is great for my career goals to help me support the local community further. It will also help me achieve in terms of enhancing my CV and my experience and really help define what I want. I really wanted a taste of teaching. I tell my friends I am teaching and they ask me loads of questions. I help clear misconceptions of newly arrived communities and women who cannot speak English which I think is really important. My friends and family are really proud of me teaching ESOL and admire me for it which is a bonus! Fircroft gave me the opportunity to get involved in the community in which I lived. I wanted to get involved since I was a child; I’ve always been enthusiastic about Talk English and I loved my time volunteering for the college. With my experience and my enthusiasm, I have since gone on to work as Project Coordinator. Fircroft College has helped me in so many ways. I’ve developed my soft skills, and unlocked my potential. I have a clearer vision of what I want and how I can go about this. I have worked hard to achieve my goals. In short, the list of things that Fircroft has given me is huge! But the biggest benefit is that I feel that I belong to a community. The community aspect of my work is what I love. I’m over the moon that I have the opportunity to do this. If I was to give advice to anyone, I’d say follow your passion and NEVER look back! Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion theme for June is Volunteering and Skills for the Workplace, if you'd like to find out more about how you can up-skill, click here. If you'd like to share your success stories with us, you can do by getting in touch with us via email [email protected] or clicking the link here.