Opening doors into the community - ESOL
Studying ESOL at City Gateway Women’s Programmes facilitated Nova’s integration into her local community
Programmes: Women's Voice, Personal Development Level 1, Customer Service
Progression: Public Speaking and Debating
Current Status: Preparing for work
Nova was born in Chad into a large family and financially supported her 22 siblings following the death of her parents. When civil war broke out she was imprisoned for almost seven months where she endured physical, verbal and sexual torture by the police and military, "they raped you, they burn[ed] you [with cigarettes] when you protest."
Eventually, she escaped and following a long journey was granted asylum in the UK. Unable to speak English, Nova had struggled with everyday tasks and felt disconnected to her new country. "I couldn’t read the labels on food so I didn't know what I was cooking with and kept choosing unhealthy foods. Friends would write down bus numbers for me to help me travel to appointments, but ... I kept waiting on the wrong side". She also carries mental and physically scars: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, use of a walking stick and loss of most of the vision in one eye, all resulting from the abuse she endured. She also entered into a relationship with a man from East London, "he was a protector for me, I thought". The relationship ended before Nova found out she was pregnant. In the end, it was her midwife who referred her to CGWP.
Studying ESOL facilitated Nova's integration in her community, "when I started classes I couldn't be close to people, but now I can have discussions in class. Today I can read my bills, I can read books, I can listen to the news, I can communicate with my doctors. Today I can communicate with people; I have confidence, and independence."
Her son also attended the on-site playgroup, Gateway Tots. Without this provision childcare costs and the worry of leaving her son at a playgroup far away from her study location would have prevented Nova from entering into education. "City Gateway helps me keep studying; when it feels too much to come to class they keep encouraging me to come. Now I can go into offices and speak to people, speak to strangers."
*Name changed to protect identity