Kemi is on a university placement at Glasgow City Mission, and along with other tasks, like serving people with drinks at the Drop-In, Kemi leads the beginner’s class at Conversation Café. Initially Kemi was observing, but now she is leading a group. Kemi loves the Café, she loves meeting new people.
When Kemi started her placement, the Conversation Café was happening on the first floor, with social distancing, and restrictions on the amount of people who could come. Today the Café meets on the ground floor, with no restrictions to the amount of people who can participate. Every week there are new people coming in, including some who have been referred by other agencies, like one agency who supports survivors of human trafficking. Usually we have around 12-15 guests, split over two ability levels.
Kemi says, “What I notice is there is a zeal that people have, an excitement to learn English, they are eager to learn which makes you want to help them. I enjoy teaching the group. Every week there’s a real fun feel to the group. The guys are also smiling because they are happy to be here learning, I am happy to be here teaching.” Kemi finds a lot of joy from being part of the team.
Conversation Café is also a good gateway into other Mission services. Recently, we reported that Clare and Urban volunteers helped guests to complete the Census 2022. This was to show people we want to include them. Many of the guests who completed the Census had first started coming to the Mission at Conversation Café. At the last election, Clare and Urban volunteers helped guests to vote in the election, because refugees have a right to vote in Scotland. This is very significant for our guests, who may have come from countries without free elections.
Dave and Mia volunteer at Conversation Café. One guest linked with Dave and Mia, and was then surprised, and pleased, to meet them volunteering at another project she visits. Having that continuity of knowing them in both places was very helpful for this guest. This led to Dave and Mia having the opportunity to pray with this guest.
While people are waiting for ESOL and college classes to have a place for them, the only option is informal community English classes like Conversation Café, which then feeds into more formal English classes. Sometimes the Café involves wee games, to provide a fun community feel. We are not aiming to provide the most formal English learning environment in the city, but to provide English with community. Kemi says, “When a guest moves from one group to another, or from one group to a more formal English class, we miss them!”