Learning and working together

As always, it’s been a busy few months for Westminster Libraries’ Bengali Service! Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:

Mental Health Facilitators / Ayurvedic Indian Head Massage training

Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016

This is a joint project in Church Street, in partnership with the Mosaic Community Trust, to train local residents – particularly those with English as a second language – to become mental health facilitators and massage therapists through a qualified training programme. In turn they are able to act as champions for their respective communities.

As part of the programme a ‘Community Celebration Day’ was held in December at Church Street Library – many people, including GPs and practice managers from the local health centres, attended to discuss patient participation and how local people can play an active role in terms of their care needs.

The project has 15 students and they will be graduating as massage therapists this month! The training will equip the participants with relevant skills to work as therapists or freelance in a salon. Some students demonstrated their newly acquired skills at the event in December and at Church Street’s New Year’s New You event in January.

A World In A Suitcase (AWIASC)

A World in a Suitcase is a storytelling project funded by the Wellcome Trust & WAES in collaboration with an author and a former BBC producer. Its aim was to foster closer relations, understanding and tolerance between communities through sharing their ‘World’.”

Myrna Shoa and Timuchin Dindjer have run six workshops with our English Speaking Clubs members at Church Street Library, using multimedia arts and story-telling prop materials.

Participants have created a visual record of their stories through collages, drawings, words and photos. All these culminated into an exhibition at WAES which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Steve Summers.

A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017
A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017 – click to view the rest of the images

Employment and Training Project at Queen’s Park Library

A great partnership has been forged with Queen’s Park Community Council and Paddington Development Trust’s (PDT) employment programme to introduce a new service at Queen’s Park Library.

The PDT Employment Adviser, Shah Alam, is based in Queen’s Park Library every Tuesday (10.30am-3.30pm). Shah works with Westminster residents, long term unemployed and job seekers, men and women over the age of 19, on a one to one basis. He sees them for a series of Information, Advice and Guidance sessions, a minimum of six and at a pace set by the client. Sessions can cover motivation and confidence, skills and referrals to training, CV creation, job search and applications, interview techniques and practical support.

SShah at Queen's Park Library, giving employment advice and supporthah is enjoying meeting with different community members, people with different needs and expectations from a job and who are balancing different responsibilities of family and childcare and other commitments. Contact Queen’s Park Library to find out more.

Parenting Seminars at Queen’s Park Library

A series of parenting seminars were organised and delivered at Queen’s Park Library, in partnership with Westminster Early Help Team & Parenting and Fast Co-ordinator, Madhu Chauhan.

Parenting seminars at Queen's Park LibraryFifteen local people have attended the seminars over three weeks learning about raising resilient happy children, instilling positive behaviours at home so they become happy, well-rounded and able to achieve their full potential.

Feedback ranged from great to excellent after all these workshops!

International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library

Another successful event was held at Pimlico Library in partnership with Westminster Bangladeshi Association (WBA) on 16 February to commemorate International Mother Language Day – a day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The event attracted over a hundred people into the library. We saw children making collages with signs and symbols of their native countries, with images of healthy food and key healthy lifestyle messages in different languages. Children also took part in a colouring completion and poetry performance as well as speeches about the importance of cultural diversity in language and why it is important to learn English in this multicultural city of Westminster.

International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library

This event was also supported by various organisations such as My Time Active, Westminster Memory Service, Health Information Co-ordinator and Health Trainers.

A Volunteer Success Story

Magdalena works at Queen’s Park Library helping out with Basic Computer Sessions and the English Speaking Club. She also helps colleagues with shelving.

Recently, she has acquired a job as she has been growing in confidence through her volunteering with the Bengali Service in Westminster Libraries. Congratulations Magdalena!

International Women’s Day

The Bengali Service also marked International Women’s Day with an event at Church Street Library, with some high achieving local female guest speakers to inspire the local women of Westminster as well as service providers ranging from  the education, training, employment, health and wellbeing sectors.

Watch this space for more news!


Cross Channel Recipes

The Church Street Library twinning project has been focusing on food. We’ve held two recipe workshops with the English Speaking Club – each member brought a traditional recipe from their country of origin and wrote it out in English. I then translated them into French. They are being sent to Place des Fetes for display.

The English Speaking Club works on recipes for the twinning project

We’ve also held a children’s workshop. The children were asked to draw their favourite food into a paper plate. Fifteen children joined this activity and their fabulous work travelled by Eurostar (with me) a couple of weeks ago to be displayed at the Paris library.

          Children displaying their favourite food collages, ready to be sent to Paris for the twinning project           Children displaying their favourite food collages, ready to be sent to Paris for the twinning project         

Children displaying their favourite food collages, ready to be sent to Paris for the twinning project

Church Street Library is currently displaying a wide range of recipes, with print outs available to take away. There are some particularly tasty examples that have come directly from Bibliotheque Place des Fetes’s staff members’ kitchen, so come along to the library this month and pick up some recipes from around the world!

Finally did you spot us in the Guardian newspaper last week? ‘Tale of two cities: UK library twins with French counterpart‘.


Bengali services update

English Speaking Club for Men at Church Street Library

Church Street Library has an established English Speaking Club for Ladies, and a newly started one for men.In order to fulfill the learning needs and demands of the local Bangladeshi male population around Church Street we now have a new course for men at Church Street Library. The informal but structured sessions were launched during Adult Learners’ Week in May 2011, and take place fortnightly on Monday mornings. Because of the high level of interest it has received, we plan to increase this to weekly from the end of July.

The men that have already joined the sessions have taken part actively in discussions and debates as part of the activities. During the brainstorming session learners were asked to come up with various themes for future activities such as health, grammar, vocabulary for work, communicative languages for dealing with school, officials, as well as working with children. Similar to the successful Women’s Speaking Club this is very much a user-led initiative.

English Speaking Club for Women at Pimlico Library

Mahbuba - Bengali Outreach WorkerIn addition to the English Speaking Clubs at Church Street Library, Bengali Services has now spread its wings to Pimlico Library and is replicating some of the activities there. The English Speaking Club for Women takes place fortnightly on Saturday mornings. The themes and subjects of these sessions are designed in consultation with the learners so they are appropriate to their needs. Most of the learners are local Bangladeshi women as well as women from other backgrounds. Like the men’s speaking group their interest also lay in English vocabulary development, grammar and health as well as learning communicative English.

Bengali Services currently has four active volunteers who give an amazing 40+ hours of their time per month, helping to run most of the activities at Church Street, Queen’s Park and Pimlico libraries. We’d like to say a big thank you to all of them!

If you’d like to join one of the English Speaking Groups, or find out about becoming a volunteer, please contact your library.