Penrith And Eden Refugee Network

Penrith and Eden Refugee Network

Learning English

One of PERN’s activities is English language support, and here are three ways in which learning takes place.


St John’s Carlisle
Since April this year people seeking asylum have been placed by the Home Office in a hotel in Carlisle. People who arrive in the UK from Ukraine, or from Syria or Afghanistan on the resettlement programme, are provided with formal English classes that are recognised by government as essential to making a new life here. However, national policy rules that people who arrive in this country to seek asylum are not allowed to attend these classes.


PERN was quick to step in and, in partnership with a range of brilliant people and organisations, has set up weekly English language classes. We’re hugely grateful to our wonderful team of volunteers, and to St John’s, which has generously provided a great space for the learning. The classes have now been up and running for 9 weeks. Around 40 asylum seekers attend each week and we hope to expand to provide 60 places. The students have organised a forum and have even put on a talent show. Their resilience, determination and ability are inspiring.


The High Sheriff, Mr Alan McViety, recently visited St John’s and met some of the students and volunteers. We had a thoughtful and emotional discussion with him about the government’s Rwanda plan, and class members spoke of the impact of the threat of deportation and the anxiety it has created.


Our thanks to the High Sheriff for taking time to visit and to the students for their engaging questions.


Penrith Library
During term time, we meet in Penrith Library on Thursdays from 9.30am to 10.30am. The groups are small and friendly, and toddlers and babies are welcome. People are welcome to drop in when they can, there is no need to attend every week.


During the school holidays we try to get out and about to the Beacon or local parks or join in other free and affordable local activities.


Online English group
We run two online conversation sessions on Monday mornings, a beginners’ and an intermediates’ group. These are small and informal groups, and people can join as and when they wish. We connect via Zoom, and talk about a different topic each week. If you are interested in improving your English by speaking with people from a wide range of backgrounds, please contact Emma on 07989 972765.

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