Elders are out in our community, making a difference and breaking down barriers for themselves and our new migrants.
Elders from Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital, a not-for-profit care home in Epsom, are this week starting their second free English Conversation Course at Epsom Library. Their first dozen students have completed the course and there is a waiting list of 25 already lining up for the next Elder-led programme.
Neighbours, Epsom Library and Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital, saw a need in the community for learners to practice their English in a safe local environment and put their heads together to solve the problem. They saw that Knox had residents rich in experience, patience and language while
Epsom library had the space and the strong migrant community.
The result was a fortnightly programme that allowed learners to sign up to practice speaking with Knox elders over a 12 week period. The ratio of 2 or 3 learners to each care home resident meant that there was ample opportunity to practice speaking and gain confidence.
“We expected them to improve their English” said Tasha Mekisic, Knox staff team member, “but we were delighted by the relationships that developed. They really looked forward to seeing each other. They shared stories and photos and got to know each other really well”. The elders of Knox and the learners got on so well that they continued meeting and one new migrant has also decided to volunteer at Knox after meeting residents.
The energy and conversation at Epsom Library during the sessions illustrated the way in which libraries today act as a hub for the community. Rachel Xu, Senior Library Assistant Ethnic Communities, sees the library as being a vital part of new migrant’s life. “The library is a meeting place for them. They learn about their new community and make friends and connections”.
As the residents of Elizabeth Knox have shown, age is no barrier to making a difference in the community.
Click here to visit Elizabeth Knox on Eldernet