Archive for August, 2012

Nargis’s story

I really enjoy coming to Heba. It is different to all the other community centres I have known. This is our Heba.

Before, I was a little bit lost. I was studying English in different centres but I didn’t really know why and I didn’t know much about life in London and how to manage. At Heba, we can find every kind of help and advice, not just from staff but from the other women too; I don’t even think of the staff as separate from the rest of the women. The different nationalities are not separate either; Heba women are so friendly; we have very good relationships, very good friends here. Heba is like my house, my home. If I am tired I can rest; if I need to talk to someone I can find someone for a chat. If I stay the whole day, I can find useful, helpful things to do.

All the women in Heba have a relationship with each other. When we meet in the kitchen making a cup of tea, people say “Hello, how are you? How is your family?” even if they don’t know you, just because we are two Heba women. When we are studying we feel like we are meeting our friends too. The communication at Heba is very nice. I have been to some centres where it’s difficult to mix and the atmosphere is not friendly but our Heba is not like that. I have changed because of Heba’s atmosphere. My speaking and communicating is better. I am forming relationships much better and I feel good: much, much better than before.

At the end of term, we celebrate everyone’s success, everyone’s exam. We are all one, we are all enjoying our courses together, our progress together, even

our cultural celebrations together. We organise and cook for our own parties. We share every part of our lives in Heba Centre, not just studying, we celebrate our festivals and our traditions together.

We feel like this place belongs to us.

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F B’s story

(as told to volunteer) I don’t speak any English. I find it hard to go out of the house and meet people; I’m not a young woman and I get a bit depressed. Heba is a place I know I can go if I need to see a friendly face. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t been for a long time, people who work there are kind to me and happy to see me and I know they understand it’s not easy for me. I think I can be useful in this country, but I need people to tell me what needs to be done. At Heba there is always something to get involved with. I feel valuable.

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Fatou’s story

After completing ESOL Entry3, I was looking for a place where I could do Level 1 with childcare facilities because I could not afford to pay for my childcare and I desperately needed to improve my English. A friend of mine who was already there told me about Heba. It was exactly what I had been looking for.

I did ESOL level 1, Level 2 and ICT. I also had conversation class and joined in the book club, which have significantly improved my speaking, listening, reading and writing. All these have given me the confidence to look for work.

When I was ready to start job hunting, I got help with building my CV, writing letters to employers, and looking for work online. The staff at Heba knew what I was looking for and forwarded job vacancies to me. Then, when I managed to secure an interview, I had some advice about possible job interview questions.

I was successful in the interview and I am so happy to be working, meeting people and having an income of my own.

Next, I’d like do GCSE maths and English and one day do a PGCE, so I can be a teacher, like I was in my country. I hope Heba will help me.

I love Heba.


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Z’s story

I moved to the UK in 1999 I did not speak any English at the time. I found English classes but they were either mixed or the teacher was a male, so I gave up and stayed home.

A friend told me about Heba, and I joined in Entry Level 2 for English in 2008. A few months later I started sewing class, I was surprised how much I had learned – I was able to discuss my work with other ladies in English! That gave me more confidence and I started traveling to Heba on my own, and booking my appointments over the phone.  Now I am taking part in E3 and a reading and listening club to practice and improve my English. I am now happy to visit the doctor by myself without the need of a translator. I do not have to wait for my husband to call the housing officer to solve any problems because I can do it.

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Pat’s story

I first came to Heba because I used to see my cousin coming home with beautiful things she had made there. I said “I’d like to go too.” At the time, I had just come out of a mental hospital where I had been recovering from depression and I was still very fragile. I didn’t go anywhere; I just used to do some grocery shopping and housework. Heba gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning because I had something to do, things to learn. In sewing class I have learnt how to take measurements and cut a pattern so I can make my own dress, skirt, anything I want. In ICT class I found out that I’m really good at word processing, and discovering the internet has given me more options. The tutors are patient and helpful and all the women at Heba are really friendly and made me feel so welcome. We all come from different cultures and I have learnt a lot that way too, like why Muslim women cover their hair. Women’s spaces are important because we are all in the same boat! Often we go through the same things and we can teach each other.

I have been coming to Heba for two years now and it was an important step in my recovery but now I am ready to move on. I’m going to apply for a dressmaking course at a college, to start in September, which is very exciting. I’m going to miss Heba, though.

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Saima’s story

I came to the UK because of my husband. I had been a teacher in my country and I wanted to restart my teaching career here. I just wanted to be useful in this country and not let my skills go to waste but first I needed to learn English. I looked for English classes everywhere but there are so many restrictions on who can have free classes and I didn’t have any money. Finally, I enrolled in a beginner class. It was much too easy, but I was desperate to do something with my time.

Luckily, a woman in the class told me about Heba, that there was a wider range of classes there, for everyone. I went along and was put in a class at my level and given help with my computer skills too. But it didn’t stop there. Through my teachers, I found out about so many other courses that I had access to and was able to start three volunteer placements in the local area. This gave me valuable experience, motivation, and the feeling that I was finally able to give something to the community. Best of all, one of the placements was as a teaching assistant in a primary school. Through this placement, I gained my Level 2 childcare NVQ and was taken on as a  teaching assistant. where I was working until I had my baby last year. I love my job and when my boy goes to nursery next year I’ll go back to work and start saving up to do my PGCE.

If it hadn’t been for Heba, there is no way I would be in this position today.

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