Volunteering with MEP

The Migrant English Project is profoundly grateful to all those people who apply to volunteer. It is heartening to know that so many people care. Our need for new volunteers varies over time so that if you apply on some occasions you may hear back from us very quickly and at other times it may take a while longer. Unfortunately it is very difficult to predict in a constantly changing situation. So please bear with us and know that what ever the lead times of our responding to your application, we deeply appreciate your readiness to help.

What might be expected of volunteers?

The Migrant English Project (MEP) helps people whose first language is not English. These individuals are migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The project helps them to gain English language skills. It is also a safe and friendly meeting place for people who might feel isolated in Brighton and Hove because they don’t speak English or know people in the local community.

Providing support, encouragement, a friendly listening ear and inspiring self-esteem and confidence is just as important as teaching English and often the two go hand in hand. Please be aware that some of the students may be particularly vulnerable due to their personal past circumstances and experiences, and that sensitivity to this is paramount.

Information for volunteers – this document explains what we ask of volunteers and what we can offer them. Please read it before deciding if you would like to apply.

What we are looking for

  • People who are warm and friendly, and can engage with others in a supportive way.
  • Sensitivity and an awareness of cultural differences.
  • People who are flexible and willing to help with whatever needs doing – team players.
  • People who can come to MEP in Brighton regularly on a Monday, and can commit to at least 6 months.

If you are offering to teach, some previous experience of language teaching or training is definitely helpful.

Most of our students are beginners or elementary level in English. They may speak a number of other languages, have varied levels of education, and a range of literacy in their first languages.

Many students will have difficult past or present experiences that impact on learning.  We offer some higher-level students continuing support.

You may take the opportunity to shadow or support a more experienced teacher.

Apart from the English language teachers, volunteers are active in other ways. Our Welcome Team play a vital role in making students feel comfortable. We also welcome volunteers with other skills such as cooking, gardening, sewing and IT expertise to work with students. 

What you can do at MEP

  • Teach English to individuals or small groups.
  • Welcome people as they arrive
  • Make tea, coffee and lunch – and wash up!
  • Help to open and/or close MEP on Mondays
  • Teach people how to use sewing machines and follow a dress pattern
  • Join a rota to help cook the lunchtime meal
  • Support parents who are responsible for safeguarding their children during ESOL sessions. We sometimes have babies and toddlers on Mondays.
  • Join the gardening group at our Community Gardens/ allotment
  • Help people fill in official forms and applications, or sometimes make phone calls
  • Translate and interpret if you have language skills
  • Photocopying and organising teaching materials
  • Help a student to use a computer

Once you know the organisation you may get involved in organising outings, production of the newsletter, or help with fundraising and finance bids.

All volunteers need to fill in our online application form and provide two references.

The timetable

MEP is open every Monday (bank holidays subject to availability of volunteers):

  • Setting up 10.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.
  • English lessons from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. (refreshments available).
  • Lunch break 12.45 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. (a free vegetarian lunch is provided)
  • More English lessons, and also the Sewing Group, from 1.30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m.
  • Clear up and pack up from 3.00pm

Other ways to support MEP

You can also help by giving money to help us operate. We rely on financial contributions to pay for rent, lunch, tea and coffee and travel costs. If you would like to donate please see our Localgiving page. We rely on external funding to keep going, so donations, especially regular ones, are really important to us and very much appreciated by everyone at MEP

The Useful organisations page of our website lists some of the other organisations you might wish to contact if you want to get involved in helping refugees and migrants.

We’re a very small outfit run entirely by volunteers so please forgive us if we don’t get back to you immediately.