Reading Community Learning Centre is a charity that helps ethnic minority women and their families who live in Reading.
Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) exists to help marginalised women from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to achieve their individual potential. The majority of the women we support are migrants or refugees who speak little or no English, and often have limited experience outside of the home. No matter what barriers a woman faces we work alongside her as she overcomes obstacles to integration and realising her aspirations. For many women, this includes improving their English, building confidence, making friends, volunteering locally, gaining qualifications or securing a job.
Based in central Reading, we offer a programme of outreach activities, free training classes, workshops, a creche and social opportunities at our Centre which are designed to build confidence, increase skills and reduce the social isolation of local BAME women. Many of the women we support are amongst the most isolated, deprived and vulnerable in our community. Our model encourages community cohesion, breaking down barriers between cultures and fosters mutual respect amongst the Learners. No other service in Reading reaches such a diverse group of women, giving us a unique insight into the needs of local BAME communities. Whilst almost all of our work in the centre is with women, our Employability classes are open to men, and some of our work based out in communities, such as with the Gurkha families, involves men.
In 2018, we carried out a research report on the needs of ethnic minority women in Reading, in partnership with the University of Reading on the needs of BAME women in Reading. This report reinforced other local and national research into the barriers faced by BAME migrant and refugee women. These barriers include limited English language skills.
The majority of our Learners come to us with such limited English language skills that they are unable to access entry-level English language courses provided by local statutory and voluntary services. Last year, 85% of our Learners had no UK qualifications. Our research highlights that English skills impacts upon migrant women’s ability to integrate with the community around them, further compounding their sense of isolation their ability to gain employment and reducing their sense of happiness or well-being. Our research highlighted, however, that BAME women who were able to form social connections, particularly having improved their English skills, were happier, more confident, better integrated and less likely to report problems.
We attract around 300 learners each year from 24 countries.