|This week, we’re showcasing the hard work and achievement of young volunteers from North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T.), an entirely volunteer-led student initiative at Newcastle University.|
N.E.S.T was founded in 2016 by a small group of volunteer students who joined together to help teach English to one Syrian family. It has grown significantly, so that now 100 Newcastle University students support up to 200 refugees and asylum seekers each week, with daily projects ranging from teaching English in classroom settings, to arts and crafts, and trips into the surrounding Newcastle area.
Ellie Mahoney, student volunteer at N.E.S.T., says they aim ‘to change the way that people are thinking about refugees and asylum seekers by promoting and encouraging people to come along on campus, and providing the learners with a safe space where they can discuss, meet new people from all different countries and backgrounds, and learn English. The drive and passion from every single volunteer who gives up any free time they have to help the people who are so often forgotten about or disregarded in our society is the main reason for such a constant growth of the project.’
On the day we visited N.E.S.T., co-founder and Project Manager Bridget Stratford was in the midst of organising their Easter celebration. We got a chance to observe some of the five classes that were being held that day, the help clinic they provide, and see the childcare provision that enables mothers to come to the sessions. We are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase the amazing achievements of Bridget and the N.E.S.T. volunteers, and the contribution they make to their community.