The Renewal Programmes Training & Education

Our English classes for women over 60 empower women with a new found confidence. Farzaneh* had never held a pen before but now she can write her name, chat to her neighbour, and read to her grandchildren.

Farzaneh is 61 and has seven children, two of whom live with her. She came to the UK as a refugee from Afghanistan and now has full settled status and has made Newham her home.

Farzaneh had never been to school and is illiterate in her first language. She visited the Renewal Programme in September 2016 with one of her children who insisted that she should sign up for English classes. Farzaneh was reluctant but registered and was enrolled on the programme.

Farzaneh had never held a pen before so was placed in the absolute beginners’ class where she started lessons by tracing shapes and letters to get used to using a pen. Since Farzaneh has attended almost every class and is now able to write her name, address, and telephone number.

At the start of the project, she was only able to understand and reply to a few personal questions but was reluctant to speak. Now, she is able to hold basic conversations with others and is a very popular member of the class – she has a great sense of humour which was able to shine through as the year progressed and she became more confident. She has made new friends from the class and now has the confidence to speak with her neighbour who has lived next door for three years.

Before she started the classes, she had felt embarrassed by her lack of literacy and had tried to conceal it, even from her children. Since the classes, Farzaneh has become closer to her grandchildren and feels happy that she can become more involved in their lives. She now practices her reading and writing at home and is starting to try to read simple books with her grandchildren.

Farzaneh loves the fact that the class is for women only, especially as everyone is in the same position as her. She feels much better to know that she wasn’t the only person who was struggling with literacy. Farzaneh says that coming to the class has changed her life completely.

 The women-only, over-60s English classes were funded by City Bridge Trust.

* Name has been changed to protect the learner's privacy

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