ANGUSalive have been working with Voluntary Action Angus and Angus Council Resettlement Team to develop a safe space for Ukrainian guests to meet one another, improve their English and integrate with the local community in Montrose.
A group of Ukrainian guests reached out through Voluntary Action Angus to learn about opportunities and to find a venue where they can improve their English and meet other people, as part of an approach to settle into the town and integrate with the local community. They were struggling to find employment due to language barriers and were not aware of all the services and support available to them in the area.
ANGUSalive Community Sport Hub coordinator Ross agreed to facilitate a “Ukrainian speaking club” at Montrose Sports Centre on a Wednesday evening from 6-8pm. This weekly activity is a safe, inclusive space for Ukrainians to come together, meet others, and can spend time practising conversations in English as well as Ukrainian. Support was also received from a local Tesco community champion to purchase refreshments so the guests felt welcome from the first night.
The speaking club hosts a “special guest” every week, who steps in to discuss a topic in English, which so far has ranged from sports & Scottish culture to property renting and welfare rights. This helps guests to grow in confidence and improve their English. Montrose Community Sports hub has developed a programme of activities so that the speaking club guests can try lots of different sports over the coming weeks and months as part of the speaking club. Since launching in July, over 26 different Ukrainian guests have attended, and 8 different sports clubs have offered their activities either at the Montrose Sports Centre or in their own venues. From January, English Speakers of Other Languages tutors will be introduced to further develop the learning space and confidence in the English language for participants.
Daria Mikhieienko, who helped to drive the project, said: “Moving to a new country is no small thing. Behind every Ukrainian there is a tragic reason and a personal story. When I think about our language club, I believe that it has an extremely positive impact on our Ukrainian participants. We try our best to create a safe & cosy space for people to meet each other and learn from our wonderful speakers. That gives a great start to anyone learning English. None of this would be possible without help from the Scottish community itself. We are incredibly grateful to Ross Taylor, Angus Alive, the Montrose Community Sports Hub, Voluntary Action Angus and the Angus Council Resettlement Team for taking this initiative to support the Ukrainian community.”
Ross Taylor, Community Sport Hub Coordinator with ANGUSalive said: “We are very proud to support this project. Community sport hubs are structured around how well we know the needs in our communities, and how we empower leaders within sport to work together to make a difference. With the completion of participant surveys and – through conversations – learning more about the anxieties people face when moving to our country, that is certainly the case in this project and the Community Sport Hub are really looking forward to growing the programme of speaking club and sports activities further over the coming months.”
ANGUSalive are currently recruiting for volunteers / guest speakers from within Montrose. If anyone would like to attend, meet and talk to the Ukrainian guests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org