Our Big Give 2023 Campaign: English & Drama Classes for Migrants and Refugees

3 Nov 2023

At Bristol Old Vic, we believe culture has a vital role to play in society. 

For our Big Give campaign this year, we are raising money for a project that supports some of the most vulnerable people and communities in our city.  

Over the last 12months, in partnership with accessible theatre specialists Spilt Ink, we've run a successful pilot programme for adults from migrant and refugee communities to develop their English language skills through drama.

Now, we need your support to extend the programme and provide guaranteed regular sessions over the next two years that will remove even more barriers for more migrants and refugees in Bristol.

We held weekly drop-in activity for anyone with that lived experience and for whom English is a second language. 

Bristol Old Vic and Spilt Ink's approach uniquely combines English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) with drama training which better has helped participants develop their confidence and a strong sense of community within the group, creating a really positive learning environment.

During the pilot:

  • 174 people have attended at least 1 English and Drama session
  • 85 people have some to see a Bristol Old Vic show.

The feedback from participants tells us that the sessions have helped them improve their English-speaking skills, which has had a positive impact on their wellbeing and supported them to settle into their communities better. 

Participants describe being able to speak with neighbours, access vital services including healthcare, transport and education. Research tells us that those with lower level English proficiency are less likely to be employed and often suffer from poorer physical and mental health.

Projects like this English as a Second Language & Drama programme supports our core aim of making sure Bristol Old Vic is welcoming to all communities and is a useful civic resource for Bristol.

I would like to let you know that the English Language and Drama Classes are very useful for me. I have noticed that I have become more relaxed and confident when I am around other people. In particular, I express myself more in terms of my voice and sounds I emit to express my emotions. This for me is a great achievement, because in the past I was a person who didn’t show much of her emotions. So, I want to thank you so much for what you do for us, and I hope the lessons will continue for a long time to come

Pilot Participant

Your support of this project during Big Give week will mean your donation is doubled, enabling us to:

  • Remove barriers for people with young children. Sessions will include activities for young children, delivered by Bristol Old Vic’s facilitators alongside the ESL and Drama sessions, as lack of childcare is one of the major barriers to participation, and one that disproportionately impacts women.
  • Provide free taster sessions around the city.
  • Provide free or subsidised transport for participants, for example funding day-rider tickets – this means that not only can participants get to and from their sessions but they can also travel around the city for the day if they need. This also helps participants improve their knowledge of the area and build confidence using public transport.
  • Offer free tickets and opportunities to engage with BOV’s wider creative programme, ensuring BOV is seen as a welcoming space.

Please support us by donating to the project during Big Give Week from Nov 28 - Dec 5 2023. Thank you.