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Conversation Over Borders

Conversation Over Borders provides free one-to-one English conversation classes, culturally relevant and trauma-informed mental health support and digital inclusion support for refugees and asylum seekers. They build confidence, reduce social isolation and ensure that everyone has the support and skills they need to rebuild their lives in the UK.

A grant from Sussex Community Foundation supported the group’s English and Befriending Project, where around 120 displaced people were matched with volunteers and had regular English classes. Over that time, friendships bloomed, and clients and volunteers built social connections with someone from a different background.

Kholoud’s story

Kholoud, a nurse in her early 20s, has been in the UK for two years. She began taking English classes with Conversation Over Borders in preparation for the English Occupational Test, which she had to complete to register with the English Midwifery Council. Kholoud had struggled to register with the Council for the last two years on account of this test, partly due to her English. She struggled with English Grammar, conversational skills and translating.

“It's built my confidence. I had the basic English, but the problem was with communication. Maybe I had low confidence. I know basic English in a plain accent but with an accent it’s quite difficult for me to catch what someone is saying! It built my confidence a lot. I think I got used to the sounds of the letters, so it moved me from the intermediate level to the upper intermediate level."

Kholoud, English Class participant

Taking part in English classes helped Kholoud build her confidence by improving her communication skills. By talking with her teacher, she became more comfortable with English accents and the pronunciation by different English speakers. She built a good relationship with her English teacher and enjoyed the classes. When Kholoud decided to finish the sessions it was because she felt confident enough to speak English without her teacher.

“After that I applied for my English exam and I passed it. I really thank Conversation Over Borders for supporting me.”


Having passed this test, Kholoud is now planning to continue volunteering at Conversation Over Borders whilst working as a Nurse for the NHS.

Find out more about Conversation Over Borders.

Published on 4th Mar 2024

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