We spoke to one woman who has been attending Xenia regularly since 2017. Read more about her experiences of moving to London and how Xenia has helped her.

Moving to London
I came to London in December 2016 to marry my husband who lives here. When I first came to London, my loneliness was ten out of ten. I missed my family a lot – I live with my husband and his family, and I really had only one friend.

I have a good relationship with my mother-in-law but I cannot speak to her about close things, and I could not speak to my mother and sister back in Sri Lanka because I did not want to worry them.

Work opportunities
I am a nursery teacher, and I want to work in the UK especially as I am on a spouse visa so I do not receive public money. I have to look after my mother and sister back in Sri Lanka and also I want my husband and I to have our own home.

With my qualifications I can get any kind of job but I wear a veil (full face cover) and in sales or customer care they tell me to take off the veil. I am applying for jobs with children so I can take off my veil. Now when I apply for carer jobs, I put two of the women at Xenia as references because I do not know other people here. 

Learning English
I want to work, so I started ESOL classes. In ESOL they improve our four skills (writing, reading, listening, speaking) but there’s not a lot of a time in classes.

In this country, you have to speak English – even to go to the shops so you can understand what people say. I speak to my community in my language so I do not have normally have an opportunity to speak in English, so if you have the chance to really talk in English you definitely have to take it.

Finding Xenia

Finding Xenia
My ESOL teacher told me about Xenia in March 2017, and now both ESOL and Xenia are very important in my life.

Xenia has helped me lots with my English. The main thing at Xenia is the opportunity to speak and listen in English as we have time to have real conversation. Because the women at Xenia all speak different languages, we have to speak English so it makes us practice.

I am used to people laughing when I make a mistake, but the women at Xenia are so kind and helpful, they correct me and I feel more confident. They are helping me to correct the words, and they don’t hurt me doing this – they are encouraging me, and these small small things are very touching.

How I feel about Xenia
I always tell my friends and classmates about Xenia because like me English is their second language.I share all the details about  Xenia with my classmates e.g. when and where, what we do there to improve improve our English.

Through conversations and activities we learn about different cultures, sometimes we go different places to do our conversations (park , garden) and we even do cooking, art and craft work in some workshops.

Most of my friends live in out of London so when I tell them about Xenia they felt that they don’t have opportunities like Xenia in their area. When I came to England I felt lonely and isolated, after I started to go to Xenia it changed and I became a strong person. We have Xenia from 10am – 1pm, in those 3 hours I feel so happy and relaxed. I feel we all are a big family, especially the volunteers who are so helpful, and now they all became my close friends.