Meet Ayesha – Xenia Case Study

Ayesha 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. 

New Xenia Trustee opportunity: Treasurer

After recruiting our founding Trustees in Spring 2019, we are now looking to appoint a financially minded Trustee to join the Xenia team and help this exciting organisation as it takes its next steps.

At Xenia, we’ve always had big ambitions for what we want to achieve for social integration and English language learning. Recently, we’ve taken some huge steps that will help us to build on and develop what we currently do, while exploring ways we can share this with those outside our local area in Hackney. All of this feeds into some very exciting projects for the new year, and we need you as a Trustee to help us ensure sustainability as we go forward!

We are looking for someone with relevant financial and/or accounting skills. Experience in the charity sector or in being a trustee is not required, but a keen interest in Xenia and our work is essential.

We particularly encourage applicants from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) and migrant backgrounds and from people who have experience learning English (either themselves or through close friends/family). If you are interested, please read the Trustee role description and email with your application. 

Join Xenia as a child care volunteer

Join Xenia’s organising team and help collectively run the day-to-day of this grassroots organisation!

We are looking for someone to join our organising team, with a specific responsibility for childcare.

Part of our aim at Xenia is to make English language learning as accessible as possible for women – and as part of this we offer childcare during the three hour workshops on Saturday mornings. The role is up to you to shape, but will likely include:

  • Looking after children during some Saturday sessions
  • Appointing and supporting other childcare volunteers to help on the weeks you can’t attend.
  • To have an overview of the childcare rota
  • To think of some games/ toy/activity suggestions and put them into action.

If you are interested please take look at the Child care volunteer role description for more details.

If you would like to apply please email to express your interest.

Could you be one of Xenia’s first trustees?

Xenia has a big year ahead, sharing our learning of women-led social integration and language learning across the country. With that comes a big step for the organisation!
To enable Xenia to get stronger and more sustainable the next step is to register with the Charities Commission, to formalise with legal status and access more funding. The really exciting part of that is recruiting a Trustee Board to help to develop and deliver Xenia’s vision of more inclusive and connected communities across the UK.

If you become a Trustee, you will have an impact on women at a local level in Hackney while also helping drive the strategic direction needed to achieve Xenia’s growth plans and make a difference reaching far further. That makes it a really exciting time to join the team!

What’s more, you’ll get to join a dedicated group of people who are committed to creating a community of welcome for all women …. and score off any new year’s resolutions you might have made to make the world a better place!

You can read the full role description below and please do share this on any of your social media channels or with individuals you think may be interested.

Here’s to our biggest year yet!

At Xenia, we’ve always had big ambitions for what we want to achieve. In 2018, we’ve taken some huge steps that will help us to build on and develop what we currently do, while exploring ways we can share this with women outside of Hackney.

Here are just some of the things we’re proud to have achieved this year and some of the amazing people that have helped us.

  • Workshops  This year we have gone from providing bi-weekly to weekly sessions, welcoming even more women from around the world and discussing topics such as suffrage and changes we would like to see in the future, through to employment and finding work. We’ve also enjoyed activities including yoga, theatre workshops and singing lessons as part of our sessions.
  • Grant funding – We’ve secured funding from Hackney Council, the Rosa Fund, the Alec Dickson Trust, the Leach Family Trust and the Women’s Centenary Fund. This funding has been critical in helping us to fund Xenia workshops throughout the year and start to pay some of the Organising Team for the hours of work they put in, which will be crucial to help with our future sustainability and growth plans.
  • In-kind support – We are extremely lucky to continue to receive the invaluable support of the Hackney Museum, who have supported Xenia since its inception. This year we’ve also received in-kind support from creative agency M&C Saatchi through the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme, and pro-bono support from the amazing teams at Ratio and law firm Goodman Derrick LLP. All of this feeds into some very exciting projects for the new year!
  • Fundraising – In September, we created a Logalgiving page to enable us to collect individual donations which will help us to cover some of our running costs. So far we have raised £968.75 from donators, £660 of which was raised by our Organising Team member Emma who raised funds by running the Budapest Marathon. Go Emma!
  • Recognition – Xenia was invited to speak at the North-South Centre’s conference on Migrant, Refugee and Asylum-seeking Women and Girls as an example of best practice in integration. Also, to come in 2019: Xenia will feature in UN Women’s Guide to Gender-Responsive Implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.

We’d like to thank all our regular participants, funders and supporters who have helped to make 2018 an incredibly successful year. Without your support, we wouldn’t be where we are today creating a community of welcome for all women.

We have some exciting developments in store for 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for updates in early January to find out more! Until then, we are all wishing you a peaceful and loving 2019!