Together for Tower Hamlets

“Now that I’m studying (English), I feel more confident. I came here as a refugee and I don’t have family here, so I need to make friends. I have a degree back home in Mechanical Engineering, it’s what I want to do, but I can’t share this knowledge without language.” Yousif (from Sudan), Tower Hamlets

Together for Tower Hamlets was a wellbeing-focussed programme based in the Bow area of London that ran through 2023.

It included a weekly English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course led by an experienced teacher and community organiser, as well as a pilot social Walk & Talk group aimed at encouraging gentle, regular exercise and further English practice. The ESOL course also included employability support for participants looking to enter work.

Both activities had a particular focus on building communication skills and knowledge around health, access to healthcare, and housing (including renters’ rights). These issues have been highlighted by our Tower Hamlets students as being acutely important during this cost-of-living crisis.

As part of this project, we also partnered with local organisation Stitches in Time, which utilises creative outreach activities involving sewing and textile-making to encourage community-building and economic and social independence for Tower Hamlets residents.

With support and training from the Stitches in Time team, our Together for Tower Hamlets participants created a collaborative quilt – drawing from the Nakshi Kantha traditions in Bangladesh – to celebrate ten years of our partnership with our wonderful host venue, Chisenhale Primary School.

To close out the project, participants also collaborated on a 10-year anniversary ‘zine to commemorate the partnership, which includes a history of our work in the borough, stories from learners about their language journeys, and photos of the beautiful, individually designed and sewn quilt squares.