I’ve been volunteering for Emmaus Village Carlton for nine years and for the past seven I’ve been teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to those companions who wanted this support.

My main career was in HR and then I lived abroad, which became the springboard for me to train to teach English.

I decided to volunteer for Emmaus because I’d been helping at a local homeless day centre. I live near to Emmaus Village Carlton and after volunteering in the shops for a while it seemed like a natural progression to start using my teaching skills to help people who live there.

The Support Team at Emmaus Village Carlton makes sure that each companion has a Personal Development Plan tailored to their individual needs. This enables each person to discuss any concerns, review goals and aspirations and highlight any training requirements and support needs. Participating in ESOL sessions can form one part of a companion’s plan.

In my time here, I’ve supported companions originally from many different countries including Spain, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Madeira, and Poland. Their English has ranged from beginner to advanced levels, and I adjust the resources and teaching accordingly.

I help with reading and writing in English, as well as conversational English, using various resources designed for adult English learning.  For the more advanced language lessons we might read parts of a novel together and discuss it in English. It’s a bit like a Book Club when that happens. Our latest book has been very pertinent: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, which is a real-life account of a homelessness experience.

I volunteer for one afternoon each week and prefer face-to-face teaching. I had to pause my volunteering during the Covid lockdowns, but I was eager to restart as soon as we could.  I am part of Emmaus Village Carlton’s Solidarity working group and have a particular interest in Emmaus’s work internationally. I really enjoy being part of the Emmaus movement.

I think the most special moments occur when a companion can use their improved language skills to make progress. It’s rewarding to see someone enjoy improving their English.