One Million Futures in the North West

Caritas conversation clubs

Having surpassed the One Million Futures milestone, we caught up with Natalie Lesbirel and Kieran Makwana, members of the Deloitte team in the North West, to discuss how the project has impacted them.

NL: The Caritas conversation club has been a hugely rewarding initiative to be involved with over the last few years. At its core, it’s a day centre providing English support for refugees and non-speakers who need a need a level of English to progress in their roles.

KM: It’s an amazing mix of people that you come into contact with. We often have highly qualified individuals, who have been doctors or dentists in their own country, but need to complete UK qualifications in order to practice over here.

NL: The UK qualifications are called IELTS, and to achieve them, you need to complete both a writing and a speaking test, which is where the Caritas conversation clubs come in. Since starting the programme about three years ago, members of the Deloitte team have been going into the centres to have casual conversations, providing their partners with valuable experience of natural conversation.

KM: What was so nice to see was the level of engagement from the Deloitte team – we’d typically go in every month with 10 volunteers, and there are numerous individuals that returned time and time again. For me, I’ve always enjoyed volunteering and helping people out, and seeing the desire that the group members have to learn the language is really inspiring.

NL: It’s also a really humbling experience. It’s important to remember just how broad a range of life experiences that the people you’re working with have, and every story you hear about is so different. In many cases, it really gives you a new perspective on what you felt was important in life, and makes you really thankful for what you do have.

KM: Despite the disruption of COVID, we were all extremely committed to ensuring these sessions continued. While we were visiting the day centre on a monthly basis to deliver these sessions, we have since adapted our approach while working from home. As a result, we now deliver our support as it is needed, with weekly signup sheets circulated to the individuals that may want to join. Even if there’s just a couple, there’s always someone at Deloitte willing to give up a bit of time to chat to them.

NL: The relationships that we’ve built, both with the organisation itself and the individuals we speak to, have been really rewarding over the course of the One Million Futures campaign, and we’re looking forward to building on that as we push towards that ambitious 5 Million goal.

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