Spotlight: Welcome English

Situated in Crosses Green in the heart of Cork City, Welcome English Language Centre is a volunteer fueled resource that has been assisting asylum seekers, refugees and the unemployed to learn or improve their English since 2001. Utilising the skills and talent of dedicated volunteer tutors, the centre currently provides English Language Classes to over 234 students.

 Adam recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with volunteer co-ordinator Angela Murphy to discuss the work being done in the centre by the volunteers. At present the centre has 37 volunteers, which consists of people with a CELTA or TEFL Qualification, primary or secondary teaching experience or have taught English abroad. The Centre provides a valuable outlet for qualified English teachers to gain work experience and boost their chances of gaining employment in the future, or for retired teachers who still want to do their bit to help in the communities.

For those starting off as volunteers with the centre, they are first given the opportunity to sit in and observe classes being taught. Tutors with less experience in teaching are usually given smaller classes at first, while tutors with more teaching experience are given larger or mixed ability classes.

 

“Volunteers are the heart and soul of Welcome English” Angela says as she discusses the unselfish efforts of the volunteers, some of whom have been volunteering there for nearly 17 years. Angela also praised the kindness of the Sisters of Mercy who provided the building and funding for the co-ordinator role.

 

After a brief introduction to the centre Adam then had the opportunity to meet some of the volunteers who contribute greatly to the success of the centre. Betty Barry has been volunteering with Welcome English for over 10 years, and explains how difficult it can be to succeed in Cork, and in Ireland without any English. Clare McCarthy a long standing volunteer who has been volunteering with the centre for 17 years, explains how she was drawn to Welcome English in response to the influx of asylum seekers to Cork in 2000. “It’s not just about teaching English. It’s about helping people who are displaced with no language” Clare reinforces. While Martin Owens who has been volunteering there for 18 months shares that it’s great to be able to meet new people. Both Students and other volunteers, and give something selflessly.

The students are also given many opportunities to meet people outside the classroom environment, with regular trips to Cork City Library as well as involvement in festivals and events such as World Book Day or the Lifelong Learning Festival where students are encouraged to attend and participate. This gives the students a great opportunity to interact with the general public and vice versa breaking down racial barriers, and allowing them to build a better awareness of Cork culture, as well as sharing their own.

Welcome English are always looking for volunteers with experience in teaching English. If you would like to learn more about volunteering there, or indeed if you would like to volunteer in any of the other sectors, we would greatly encourage you to register online at VolunteerCork.ie and we can help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @VolunteerCork where you can keep up to date with all our latest opportunities, events and the general happenings here in Cork.

Adam Lacey

Cork Volunteer Centre