‘Please help us to help the Romas’

Roma chapion Martin Burrell with course co-ordinator Tracy Guy (left) and Cornelia Angel

Roma chapion Martin Burrell with course co-ordinator Tracy Guy (left) and Cornelia Angel

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Roma champion and Christchurch Bushmead vicar Martin Burrell is appealing for volunteers to help teach English to Luton’s Roma community.

The former Scottish Opera Orchestra clarinettist said: “Since January, Romanies have had the opportunity under EU laws to work in Britain. But if they don’t have English, they’re not going to be able to hold down a job.

“There are lots of courses out there but Romany people prefer to have English brought to them in their homes.

“We have a project that’s been running for nearly a year, funded by the Luton and Bedfordshire Community Foundation. It aims to help them engage with English, in recognition that this is a route to work and to integration.

“But we need to recruit many more volunteers to meet the huge need from the Roma community.”

The project’s literacy and language co-ordinator is Tracy Guy, 44, of Bushmead who did her training in ESOL (English as a second language) at the University of Bedfordshire.

The current course is run by Luton Adult Learning Centre.

The former pre-school practioner said: “It’s very similar to an early years foundation course – it’s the same sort of principle, teaching people how to read and write.

“I visit several ladies with mixed abilities and basic English. We look at the alphabet and I help with filling in forms.

“I really enjoy what I’m doing. I feel I’m making friends – and making a difference.”

She added: “We’re looking to recruit as many volunteers as we can and we’ll train them up.

“They don’t have to have a teaching background – we will teach them to teach English.

“People who respond should be flexible and prepared to work within a family unit. It can be challenging but it’s also very rewarding.”

Romanian widow and mother-of-six Cornelia Angel, 44, has benefitted from an ESOL course.

She said: “When we arrived I had no money, no work, no house. I sold flowers and did cleaning jobs.”
Now all her younger children are at school and she’s had an interview for a full-time job in a care home: “Thanks to Martin – and Jesus.”

> Find out more by emailing tg56luton@gmail.com

 

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