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Relating language practice and community involvment, this group highlights the importance of amicable contact and friendship in the language learning process.
SHEFFIELD REFUGEE FRIENDSHIP GROUP came together with STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and the newly established Drop in Centre (Sheffield Asylum Team) at Victoria Hall in late spring 2002. About 5 or 6 volunteers sat down with about 5 or 6 refugees to talk and play games, drink a cup of tea and get to know each other.
There was no particular brief and no training. We explored a variety of approaches to help language practice and confidence building and give new arrivals a chance to find out about the city and what it could offer them. Someone suggested the table we used could be labelled Conversation Corner to encourage those who came to the drop in centre for housing or medical advice perhaps to stay on and involve with the talk and the fun side of the afternoon. Later the name was changed to Conversation Club.
The club has proved so popular, that we first extended to a 2nd session run on a Friday afternoon, and later to a women only session on Thursday midday. New groups have since grown up in some Sheffield districts and in other towns. We now also extend our activities to weekend walks, museum visits, football, cinema visits, and soon… to anything that our members want to organise.
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