Miranda reflects on her time as project leader of BWR and Bath STARs Study Club.
My name is Miranda Dockley. I am a fourth-year Sociology Student and have been Project Leader of Study Club for Refugees since 2021.
My role is to recruit volunteers that speak Arabic, Dari, Pashto, or Farsi to support non-English-Speaking families. Also, to recruit English speaking volunteers to support families that can speak English. We help with a variety of subjects, and we support some of the parents to learn and practice their English reading, speaking and listening skills whilst entertaining the younger children and supporting the 8 to 16 year olds with their homework.
Who are Bath Welcomes Refugees?
Bath Welcomes Refugees is the charity that runs the study club and they are a charity predominantly led by Volunteers. They employ one paid member of staff but everyone else volunteers. They rely on donations of resources for school and homeware essentials to support families arriving in Bath and surrounding areas like Keynsham. The charity run English lessons and homework club as well as a series of events to better integrate families with refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. Not all the families we support are refugees- many of the families are asylum seekers which means they don't have access to support from charities funded by the government. The charity is supporting over 25 families by befriending families and providing resettlement support.
What happens at Study Club?
Study Club happens weekly throughout the year and provides homework support and general education teaching for children and young adults from refugee and asylum-seeking families aged 8 to 16. Over an hour and a half, each young person is matched to a volunteer to work on something they have brought to the group that they need help with. If they haven’t brought something with them, they can use one of the revision or study guides that the group have, to work on something they want to improve. Although the group is predominantly set up for study, they all come with a unique experience of distress, loss, vulnerability…etc. Being finally somewhere safe is hard for them to process alone.
“From my personal experience with refugees that I interacted with, I think that the trauma that is engraved in their memories gets ‘lighter’ when they share it with people who experience similar journeys. Their sense of belonging in this small community at the language club here is helpful. I have seen families and individuals becoming close by sharing their struggles and experiences and they bring their children to the club and socialise too. This, I guess, has a positive effect on their children. I think what I wanted to say is that within this place, they find a good opportunity to interact on a level we can’t even see because it transcends our understanding of their shared experiences. This is a key thing that might help them cope and deal with their trauma."
Shared by a volunteer with lived refugee experience.
What difference have Bath students made by participating in study club?
Some of the students have said that it's about more than just language learning and homework. The children can relate to one another in so many ways.
The volunteers feel that they are making a positive impact to society by giving back and it helps them gain experience with teaching. They said it’s a good community atmosphere and helps students to put themselves in someone else's shoes. A few of the Arabic speakers said that they can relate to the children that come to homework club because they were at a stage where they also struggled to speak English. Therefore, they can empathise. Overall, the student volunteers have said that it's important for building a community for the children, parents and teachers. There's a nice community spirit.
There are also some staff from the University who volunteer with the Charity.
Quote from the Language Coordinator
“We couldn't run homework club without student volunteers from The University of Bath or Bath Spa University. It makes a huge difference to the provision we are able to offer".
Alice Herve - Language Coordinator, Deputy Chair
How you can get involved
- Volunteer as a University of Bath Student or member of staff: contact Miranda Dockley on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer if you are a member of the wider Bath Community: you will need to complete a volunteering application form and speak to Alice Herve email@example.com
- Bath Welcomes Refugees are one of RAG's Big Four for 2021 – 2022 and you can donate to the fund here
All photos shared intentionally capture the back of heads to protect the anonymity of the service users. Photos have kindly been shared by Bath Welcomes Refugees.