LEAP Grant Update: Reading Together at Armley Library, Part 1

Alina and Dominika

Reading Together received a £1,000 LEAP Grant in 2014. Lyn Banbury wrote the LEAP application and now runs the group at Armley Library in Leeds. She talked to us about the impact that the LEAP Grant is having on asylum seekers and refugees in their community.

Following promotion to many groups, (including visiting the Meeting Point drop in for Asylum seekers and refugees at Christchurch in Armley who were very positive about the project), we’ve had approximately 12 weekly sessions so far.

After consulting with our Area Development Librarian: Equality and Diversity, we have done a lot of additional promotion with refugee and other similar groups, both around Armley and in the wider Leeds area in January. Our group members include Abbas who is in his 30’s from Iran; Bhjan who is an older lady from India who was very socially isolated and digitally excluded, but who has also started computer learning sessions at Armley Library with me; Anna, Alina and Dominika in their 20’s from Poland; Luka, a young man also from Poland; and Joy, a young student from Korea.  Abbas, who has attended more of the sessions than anyone else, has seen his English improve over the weeks to the point where he has now successfully passed his driving theory test in English with 48/50. He regularly visits the library to borrow books and use the computers.

We have regularly used the Poetry anthologies and the Shared Reading A Little Aloud anthologies purchased with money from the Leap Grant. A Little Aloud for Children is probably the most useful of them, as we have found some of the language in the other books to be too difficult for some people with English as a second language. We have found that we have to be very flexible and be prepared to change our session plan at the last minute, depending on who attends and their level of English.

May 2015

Harbhjan and Surinder, both from the Punjab area of India, now attend regularly. They are very positive about the impact on their lives and I have referred them to the Dosti Asian ladies friendship group at Stocks Hill Hub in Armley as they are quite isolated. They are regularly attending computer learning sessions with both me and a colleague at the library as they are quite digitally excluded. Surinder has also enrolled on an ESOL class – something she has been wanting to do for a while. Harbhjan has joined the Job Shop at Armley Hub to help her look for work.  Both have had a marked improvement in confidence in both speaking and reading over the last few weeks.

When I asked them how the group had helped them:  Harbhjan replied, “Increased confidence, in speaking and spelling, by reading stories,” and “more reading at home, borrowing books from the library and getting out.”

If you would like to apply for a LEAP Grant, applications for 2015 are open until 5pm BST on 4th July. For libraries: http://www.betterworldbooks.co.uk/go/leap-libraries. For non profit organisations: http://www.betterworldbooks.co.uk/go/leap-nonprofits.


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