On Tuesday 23 May LEAH held its annual review meeting combined this year, as you tell from the balloons, with its 35th Birthday party. We were very privileged to have The Worshipful the Mayor of Kingston Upon Thames, Councillor Julie Pickering, join us. Elected just a week before our meeting, we were one of her first official functions.
In 1982 a local Methodist minister's wife, Joan Summersby, founded the Kingston ESL scheme. A group bringing together fluent English speakers with women with very low language levels for English support and crafts. Small and informal at first, the group later received its first significant funding from Kingston Social Services and later changed its name to Learn English at Home. Joan saw that people can be empowered to become more active in their community through the acquisition of language skills and that is still at the heart of what LEAH does today and plans to continue doing.
In the 2016/17 financial year our volunteers have supported 133 clients with 1 to 1 English tuition in the home. That's a 10% increase on last year.
The number of people supported in our community based classes has also grown by over 20%. For example 29 clients have improved their reading and writing skills through our dedicated literacy class. 30 parents of children at Coombe Junior School have gained vocabulary and the skills needed to engage with school and support their child. In Ham we've had real success bringing together fluent English speakers with those learning English to share craft activities, walk and support each other. In total forty people have benefitted from the Ham People's Project across the year.
We have also been making exciting plans for the future, scoping and beginning to secure funding for a roll out of our 1 to 1 work in the borough of Hounslow. 2018 will see us reaching clients across 3 London boroughs and we aim to reach 20% more isolated adults.
The highlight of the meeting was undoubtedly hearing from our clients and volunteers about what LEAH means to them. Here are just a couple of the comments we've received since the meeting.
‘It is always so inspiring and moving to hear from the clients and tutors about their experiences and how much LEAH has helped them to transform their lives.’
‘The work of LEAH is truly inspirational and the selfless work by the tutors and the progress by the students is very humbling.’
Further photos of the meeting are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHskVGDovm