Help to overcome language barrier

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A PROJECT to support non-English speaking families has had a successful first year.

Home-Start Calderdale was awarded a BBC Children in Need grant to recruit a bilingual co-ordinator – Sanham Aurangzeb – who has now trained 17 bilingual volunteers.

They have been supporting Asian families in Halifax and more funding is being sought to extend the service into the wider black and ethnic minority communities.

The current grant aid runs for three years and Home-Start has had encouraging feedback from the initiative.

The organisation supports families with children under five across Calderdale but struggled to recruit volunteers from the Asian community.

Senior co-ordinator Linda Crowther said: “We just kept hitting barriers to recruitment and often families needed an Urdu or Punjabi speaker to provide emotional support.

“Our English-speaking volunteers, however well meaning, just couldn’t provide this.”

Mrs Aurangzeb works 16 hours a week managing the volunteers who have completed 40-hour courses preparing them to deal with home-visiting support work.

They spend two to three hours weekly with an assigned family and provide advice, practical and emotional support to young families.

“It’s good for families to have someone who shares the same language and culture and everybody is very happy with the support they receive,” said Mrs Aurangzeb.

The early success has resulted in Home-Start seeking new funding providers to increase Mrs Aurangzeb’s hours and attract more volunteers.

Samina Kamran was among the first batch of trained volunteers.

“We have been taught how to deal with people and their problems,” she said.

“Listening and confidentiality are among the key things and I feel valuable because I am helping people and increasing my own knowledge while dealing with emotional support and family stress factors.”