A group of Ukrainian refugees who are living in Corby have begun essential English lessons after a huge effort from the local community.
Learning the language is vital for anyone moving here from the war-torn country if they want to work. But many Ukrainians speak Russian as their second language so have very little English.
So a group of Corby people set about ensuring that the refugees have quick and easy access to formal language classes.
In just two-and-a-half weeks they were able to provide a venue, teachers and a creche for 35 migrants who wanted to learn the language. The first class took place on Tuesday (June 14) at the Corby Refugee Hub.
Landlord Martin Anderson, who came up with the initial idea, had offered up an empty house for five refugees and is set to take two further Ukrainians into his own home shortly.
He said: “There’s two doctors, a dental student and a lawyer and I didn’t think it would be the best use of their time going to work in a factory.
"But they need to be able to pass the IETL English Language test to get a job with the National Health Service.
"I really wanted to get this sorted quite quickly – I just like to get stuff done without all the messing - so I had a meeting with Cllr Lyn Buckingham who has been absolutely fantastic and she managed to get us a £500 grant from the council.”
Martin was initially willing to host the lessons in his own home and fund them himself but interest grew and he started The Corby Area Ukrainian Support Hub group on Facebook. He managed to get a space to hold the lessons at the Living Faith temple in the former Connaughty Centre.
Lessons take place for an hour, twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, for fourteen weeks. Groups are split into three different abilities.
Qualified teachers volunteered their time but, because there will be so many sessions, Martin has started a Go Fund Me in order to help pay them a wage. There is also the hope of further council and DWP funding.
Martin added: “We now have enough to get us through the first three or four weeks. We can’t expect teachers to work for nothing. It’s such a massive commitment.
"There are so many people who have helped including our translator Eugene Moroi, our English teacher Nadia Hards, Churches Together who fund the Refugee Hub and Homestart who have also helped us. The Foodbank have been there helping to make sure everyone has enough to eat. It’s just been a massive community effort.
"As well as learning English, it’s just a great place for people to get support from people in the same position.”