Learning English helps Nageswary into work

21 Mar 2017

Nageswary Seevaratnam from Jaffna, Sri Lanka, struggled financially for many years, but after the death of her husband, she finally decided it was time to get into work to support herself and her son. Due to her limited English skills, she kept hitting a brick wall but now, thanks to the English classes at Benn Partnership in Rugby, she’s finally been able to secure work.


Nageswary outside the Benn Partnership


Nageswary, 60, lives in Rugby, Warwickshire, with her son. Now widowed, she’s been part of the community for about 12 years and in that time has always struggled financially. Her son, who she supported through school, now works full-time in a warehouse, supporting them both, and speaks fluent English.

Even with her son working, they just weren’t making enough money to pay the bills.

“Nageswary wanted to work because of the lack of income in their household,” says her tutor Gita Natarajan. “Her son is only 21 and supporting both himself and Nageswary was a huge responsibility on his shoulders. They have no one else to fall back on.”

Nageswary had been attending Benn Partnership for a while - they helped her to engage with her son’s school and with going about her everyday life. As a member of the Online Centres Network, Benn Partnership is a multi-cultural community hub, working in partnership with a number of organisations to deliver community-led services, including courses and activities to local residents.

One day, Nageswary finally told Gita how much she wanted to secure work.

“I told her that I really wanted to speak English so that I could get a job,” explains Nageswary. “She told me about the classes. She brought me to them.”

When she first started attending classes as part of Good Things Foundation’s English My Way programme, Nageswary didn’t speak any English at all, so Gita made sure the learning had the right focus for her, so she could address her particular needs.

“We learnt about jobs,” says Nageswary. “We learnt about speaking to other people. We learnt about asking questions in the library and other places. I liked learning about jobs because that’s what I was there to learn.”

Both the atmosphere and course content were ideal for Nageswary: “I like going to the centre. It’s very friendly. I find English My Way very good. It’s easy for me to use.”

Although her English is not yet fluent, Nageswary was delighted when she used her new skills to apply for a job as a cleaner at a local secondary school - and was successful.

“Now I can work,” she says. “I enjoy going to work and I enjoy that I get a salary! When we did our employment classes that’s one of the words we learnt - ‘salary’. I clean everything at the school, even the carpets and I do mopping. It’s good. I don’t feel bored!

“This job is my first job. I wanted to earn money to pay bills and now I can. Learning English helped me to get work and I’m going to keep learning more. My son is very proud of me. People shouldn’t be afraid to learn English - they should give it a go!”

Gita is delighted with how far Nageswary has come since first starting her classes. She concludes: “Although Nageswary still cannot speak English fluently, she manages to communicate her requirements and understands her colleagues at work. What I think was especially useful for her - and for others - is that the English My Way course is very targeted and the employment-related questions can be practised over and over again.

“Seeing Nageswary getting into work was such a big thing for her and for her son. It’s especially good for him to know that we’re there to support her if she needs it and that there’s now a bit more money coming in. It takes some of the weight off of his shoulders.”