Language Café

Monday, 1 June, 2009

Christ Church Roxeth (in Harrow) realised that it was having little impact on its neighbours of other religions and cultures and started looking for ways to serve them.

Harrow, North West London, is an area with an 'ethnic minority majority'. In the 2001 census there were 41 different ethnic groups with 2,000 people or more. 

It decided to launch a Language Café for women on a housing estate in the area, using a community centre there.  

The women meet every Wednesday afternoon and sit in small groups discussing a topic. There is no formal teaching, but the leaders use pictures and other resources to stimulate conversation on that week's theme, giving the women an opportunity to develop their English language skills.

The team offer free refreshments and look after any children who come. 

We are yet to discover if it will develop into a church of some sort,

says Caroline Newbold, one of the team,

but we are clear that we are Christians and we encourage the women who come to write down names of people they are concerned about on a prayer board. We pray for those concerns after the meeting every week.

We have had some encouraging feedback from the women about this and they have started to open up to us about situations both here and in their home countries, although language and cultural differences mean that building relationships is a slow process and patience is essential.

We have lots of ideas for developing the work of the café, including offering the women a chance to take part in a new version of Alpha for speakers of other languages in the new year.