Volunteer in Salford and Learn English!

Have fun and make friends

Join our fun and friendly volunteer and learning group at St. Paul’s Church in Salford. Our group follows the Creative English learning syllabus – a community-based, English language teaching programme that is suitable for all levels of English. This course is perfect if you have very little or no English – you will quickly gain confidence and basic skills. If you already have good English, you will improve your confidence and communication skills by helping those with less knowledge.

What is Creative English?

Creative English uses a drama-based teaching method, with role-play, games, props and flash cards used within peer to peer, group and pair work. You get to practice every-day, practical English in fun, informal ways covering topics such as health, shopping, community and housing. Participants have also found the topics related to work very useful, including job interviews and volunteering.

Our Creative English classes have run alongside other social gatherings for more than 3 years now! We have enjoyed meeting so many local residents and it’s fantastic to see so many people making strong freindships. You can find out more about the background to our Creative English class in the blog post: ‘Our Creative English Journey’.

Improving mental health and wellbeing…

Health Watch Barking and Dagenham, an independent charity, recently published their findings from a case study into Creative English, titled: ‘Creative English Sessions improving mental health and wellbeing’. The case study detailed how participants were referred to the programme ‘because of the positive impact it has on well-being – being part of a fun, friendly community while building your skills makes a huge difference.’

Our weekly group at St. Paul’s Church provides a warm, welcoming fun and friendly class with lots of linked social events and community days. You can find out more about local opportunities, services and sources of support, linked to the topics we cover. Many participants have not only made friends by coming to our group, they have also found out about vital social groups across Salford.

Information is communicated by peers within an informal, relaxed setting – we find that this approach can be very successful. Ultimately, we hope that refugees and asylum seekers follow up on the information provided and access sources of support and opportunities, so that they can improve their health and wellbeing whilst also creating a support network.

Our Training Day with Dr. Anne Smith

Our group has undergone quite a few changes over the last 6 months, with many new participants joining and becoming volunteers – so we decided it was time to breathe some new life into our class!

Dr Anne Smith, the creator and developer of Creative English came all the way up to Salford from her base in London to visit us. She delivered training to our group over two very fun and enjoyable days!

Volunteers learnt how to deliver activities using the Creative English method – which helped us gain confidence and build our communication and leadership skills. So, that meant lots of fun games and drama with some good discussions and laughter!

Dr. Anne Smith is very supportive and gave us the confidence to continue delivering our Creative English class. We look forward to classes starting again soon!

Participants involved in training with Dr. Anne Smith (far right)

Learn with us…

Volunteer with us!

According to Helpguide, an organisation that runs the world’s top 10 mental health websites ‘volunteering can help you make friends, learn new skills, advance your career, and even feel happier and healthier.’

Become a volunteer with our Creative English group and work within our team to deliver teaching activities. This experience will benefit you in many ways – it will build your confidence and communication skills, habits of work and a good reference for future employers or education.

Contact us to arrange a volunteer taster session by visiting www.salfordascension.org

Connect with us via our Facebook Page

Art Art Galleries asylum seekers churches creative english creative learning fun Galleries gardening have fun Heritage learning learning english learning through play learn together make friends Manchester mental health museum opportunities Ordsall Hall refugees salford skills teaching The Whitworth Gallery tudor hall volunteer volunteering wellbeing

Art & Nature at The Whitworth Gallery

A city centre ‘must see’!

Our Creative English group made a trip to The Whitworth Gallery and its fabulous gardens and outdoor galleries in Manchester city centre last week. With exhibitions of new work by some of the world’s leading artists alongside watercolours, textiles, wallpapers, photographs and fine art, The Whitworth has become one of the city’s most popular galleries and a ‘must-see’ cultural destination.

Teachers, volunteers and participants came together to enjoy an uplifting tour around the beautiful gallery and took in the sights and scents of the adjacent outdoor galleries and gardens. This visit was part of our ‘Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’ project, funded by The Allen Lane Foundation.

Following our guide to the outside gallery space.

Improving Health & Wellbeing

Experiencing nature and art also improves health and wellbeing. According to mental health charity, MIND, ‘spending time in green spaces or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing’. ‘The Healing Power of Arts’ is an organisation dedicated to raising awareness about how art enhances well-being and enhances social and emotional development.

Our ‘Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’ project aims to provide opportunities for local residents from refugee and asylum seeker communities learn English, interact, make friends and experience cultural UK heritage and nature. You can find out more this project at our earlier blog post: ‘A New Project: Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’.

What did we see?

The Whitworth Gallery was enjoyed by all who attended! A tour guide from the Whitworth Gallery also accompanied our group, entertaining us with plenty of information and insights.

Exhibitions included drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and more, from a wide range of local and international artists. Our tour also allowed time to explore tapestries from around the world, from Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen – these pieces held great importance to the cultural heritage of many of our group.

Our group learning about the origins of tapestries on display

A Chance to see the ‘Kiswa’ Cloth

This section of ‘Kiswa’ cloth, woven in satin silk, dates back to 1924 – it really made an impression on many of our group. This important cloth is woven with religious phrases in Arabic and covers the ‘Ka’ba’ in Mecca, with sections distributed across the world every year.

Our group crowding around the ‘Kiswa’ cloth.

Our Shared Heritage

Our group was fascinated to learn more about the Victorian tradition wall-paper designs and processess. We were super interested to learn how British designers at that time actually used methods involving dyes, wood-blocks and printing that originated in Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Japan. The tour guide explained how methods have evolved over time, with modern methods now using computer-aided design to recreate these ancient techniques and draw upon other cultures and tradition.

Finding our about traditional wall paper design.

Challenging Stereotypes

The exhibition ‘Beyond Faith: Muslim Women Artists Today’ showcased the work of five Muslim women and really made an impression on many of our female participants. The exhibition explored themes of identity, culture, ‘otherness’ and belonging. Many of our volunteers and participants were already familiar with the stories and works of these artists but had never actually seen their work. These pieces also reflected the diverse personal journeys of the artists and their artistic journeys, challenging the stereo-types of Muslim women.

Peaceful Gardens and Outdoor Galleries

We also loved this excursion to The Whitworth Gallery because there are galleries situated outside that are integrated into the adjacent park and art garden. There is a sculpture terrace and orchard garden that run alongside spaces that lead into the park.

We hope that participants from our group will return to these free, city-centre green spaces and galleries that are open for everyone to enjoy. Many of our participants also volunteer in our Paradise Garden and were very interested to see this exemplar garden.

So, tell your family and friends and then come back again and soak up the sunshine!

Make new friends & learn new skills!

Do you live in the Salford area? Would you like to improve your English, make new friends and enjoy cultural trips to visit nature and culture? Join our Creative English group as a learner to improve your English language skills. You can also become a volunteer and work within our team to deliver teaching activities. We also run a gardening volunteer group in our Paradise Garden which you can find out more about by exploring this blog.

Our volunteer initiatives will benefit you in many ways – they will build your confidence and communication skills, habits of work and provide you with a good reference for future employers or education.

Vounteers in our Paradise Garden.

Want to Find Out More?

Your can find out more about our learning and volunteer initiatives and the wider activities of The Ascension Church by visiting our website at: www.salfordascension.org.

We look forward to meeting you!

Connect with us via our Facebook Page

Art Art Galleries asylum seekers churches creative english creative learning fun Galleries gardening have fun Heritage learning learning english learning through play learn together make friends Manchester mental health museum opportunities Ordsall Hall refugees salford skills teaching The Whitworth Gallery tudor hall volunteer volunteering wellbeing

A First Excursion… to Ordsall Hall, Salford

For our first excursion we wanted to visit the beautiful Ordsall Hall, a fantastic example of a great Tudor house, situated locally to our group in Salford.  The house has a long and interesting history and dates back to 1177! Participants and volunteers thought it was important to explore a local museum first, where participants can easily re-visit with friends and family in the future.

We were able to enjoy a special tour that was specifically designed for those whose first language is not English, provided by two very knowledgeable tour guides. This really made the visit very interesting and fun – there was so much to do and discover and we even took part in a quiz!

Our tour guide explaining how kitchen apparatus was used in Tudor times.

Participants enjoyed dressing up as Tudors and tried on some chainmail, exploring the different rooms and areas within the great house. There was also plenty of time to ask questions and discuss the different artefacts on display.

We spent an enjoyable time sat at the Tudor dining table learning about foods that would have been cooked at the Hall in the 1500s. We were all fascinated to learn about different recipes and how the diet of the wealthy land owner would differ to that of his servant sitting at the other end of the table!

Our group was fascinated to discover more about the way of life for people living in tudor times. The tour staff answered many questions and added a real buzz to our day which added to what was a very enjoyable time spent with friends exploring the house and gardens.

We also found time to enjoy some tea and cake in the museum cafe!

The gardens surrounding Ordsall Hall are designed to showcase garden elements popular throughout history such as the late Tudor style knot garden, medieval herb gardens and orchards. Exploring the gardens provided participants with plenty of inspiration for our own Paradise Garden rebuild design.

The traditional 20th century allotment that can be explored at Ordsall Hall also provide a fantastic example of the kinds of fruit and vegetables that can be grown within a relatively small space throughout the year.

We hope that participants from our group will come back and explore Ordsall Hall with their friends and family. Thank you Ordsall Hall for a great day!