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Photo: Brushstrokes
UK News

Catholic language charity desperate for volunteers

Brushstrokes provides free English lessons to people, particularly asylum seekers and has students from more than 100 different countries. It also provides other services to help newcomers to the UK such as giving out essentials and support with housing and CVs.

A three-fold partnership founded the charity in 1999, the Catholic Parish of St Phillip Neri in Birmingham, the Infant Jesus Sisters religious order and Father Hudson's Society - the social care agency of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham.

The charity is based in Smethwick in the Sandwell area of the West Midlands, and teaches across Birmingham and the Black Country.

However rising demand for its services has promoted the charity to "desperately appeal" for more English volunteers. There are currently 10 teachers actively educating students, with a further 15 volunteers acting as classroom assistants and providing general support.

A Pakistani woman who attends Brushstrokes classes escaped the country because her husband was a politician, and their lives were endangered. She said: "I don't want to be a useless person - I want to use my qualities and skills to contribute to England's life."

Theresa Clements the Brushstrokes Manager, told Premier: "We take very seriously the message of Christ's welcoming the stranger. By welcoming a stranger, we are welcoming Christ into our lives and into the lives of others.

"We have people from over 130 different countries which is absolutely amazing. It is so wonderful seeing people sitting round a table, learning a language together, making friendships as that happens and celebrating their diversity.

"The majority of the people that we're helping are from the Muslim faith and I think it's a great way of breaking down divisions, helping people to recognise that we're all part of humanity and that we share very common beliefs."

Listen to Theresa Clements speaking to Premier's Hannah Tooley here:

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