Welcome to English

Welcome to English was created by Karen van Diesen to help newcomers to Hull (mostly refugees and asylum seekers) to practise English, make new friends and find out more about living in Hull. They achieve this with the help of around 35 befriender volunteers, most of whom are qualified teachers. In the last 4 years, they have helped around 800 learners to speak English, learn about life in the UK and help them to adapt and become part of the local community.

Karen has worked in education for 20 years in developing countries such as Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. On returning to Hull after working with various organisations and people who were now living in the UK, including asylum seekers and refugees, Karen recognised the need to help these communities and the Welcome to English was born.
While the main aim of Welcome to English is to teach newcomers in Hull how to speak English, the support they provide is so much more than this. As well as teaching people English, they also teach them so much about life in the UK in general, helping them to adapt and become part of the local community.
Around one-third of the people they help are unable to read and write and have no literacy skills in their native language. Many have never had the opportunity to go to school. And so, finding themselves in the UK and learning the language is a daunting prospect.
Karen and her team of volunteers teach, befriend and use several different techniques to help people adapt to life in the UK and connect with other people.
They partner with many organisations in Hull to provide as much support as possible to help the service users learn about Hull, provide opportunities to practise English, meet other people, and help them get into work.
Funds from the Matthew Good Foundation will go towards resources and activities to enhance learning and wellbeing.
Find out more here: www.welcometoenglish.org

We would be so grateful to you for opening the door to the new opportunities literacy brings, such as replying to a letter from school, understanding a poster for a community event, following a medicine label, reading a bus timetable, filling out a form or applying for a job. And, of course, being able to read and write will improve self-confidence and self-esteem. Thank you so much for choosing us as a Grants for Good finalist."

Karen, Welcome to English
"Karen's project is a fantastic and much needed resource for Hull's refugees and asylum seekers. Karen 's extensive experience means she is aware of the difficulties which arise for individuals, families and wider society when people are not supported to learn and grow their English Language skills, including the impact on self esteem and confidence. Karen explained how isolated people can feel when arriving in the UK for the first time, often after a traumatic experience, and Welcome to English provides the opportunity to learn not only the English language, but to make friends and become part of the local community."
Michelle Taft
Executive Director, Matthew Good Foundation