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Gill Curtis taught ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and has a long association with Community House.

Interview with Gill Curtis who taught ESOL for many years and has a long association with Community House

1–3 mins: ‘I didn’t know about Community House till I was brought here to teach ESOL in 2002.’
Gill previously taught ESOL at Charles Street in Newport. This was a ‘ladies only’ classes, which ran between 2002 -2009. Students came from many countries including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey. ‘It was a lovely experience’.
At Community House, free to set her own syllabus, she used a range of activities. They would talk about local history, local geography, poetry, and topics like visiting the Doctors and shopping. They used the kitchen for cooking and would exchange recipes. They worked with the Library to make story bags to use with their children. The ladies were ‘amazing, very good at cooking’, ‘any excuse for a celebration’ ‘that’s when you get to know each other really well’.

She also ran a very successful afternoon class for ladies learning to drive. ‘anxious about passing their driving theory’ ‘a lot of them went on to successfully pass their driving test’.

Members of the group would visit Gill at home and this would involve more food. On one occasion, a Bangladeshi lady brought a whole fish to fry. ‘she just added these beautiful spices, cooked this fish and then we shared it and that was a lovely experience.’
The class went on outings to places like Tredegar House and the seaside.

4-6 mins: A memorable story. There was a Chinese student who was here for a year and who came to the classes. Gill also had a friend who was going to China to teach English – and it transpired that she was going to the Chinese student’s home town in North China. Gill introduced them and they became friends over the 10 years they were in China together and they are still in contact today.

6 - 11 mins: During her time at Community House Gill met Brian, who told her about the Tuesday Lunch Club (TLC)

‘Brian finds out all about people and what they’re involved in and tries to use their talents in any way he can.’

She now comes along once a month and holds a short service in the chapel as well as setting up her Traidcraft stall – which is another of her interests.

Brian also asked her to come along and talk about her various interests – Traidcraft; the night shelter; her work with schools; and her daughter who is the advocacy officer for Malala Yousafzai, who won the Peace Prize.

The Pakistani ladies were interested to learn that Fairtrade apricots came from Pakistan. Traidcraft was set up to give women the chance to work and develop their skills and to become breadwinners in their communities.

11 – end: ‘always looks forward to coming to Community House’ ‘a joy to step into Community House because of their wideness and inclusiveness’. Met so lovely people here Brian, Ann, Lyn. ‘old people I’ve met here …really interesting characters’ ‘what a wonderful example they are of growing old gracefully’
‘I think things would be a lot different in this area if it wasn’t for Community House.’

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