There are hundreds of people working as volunteers across Burngreave, providing vital support for both groups and the people that they support, as well as learning new skills and making new friends as well as making a big difference to their community. Here, Jim Dimond explains what he does and why.
Jim Dimond interviewed by Kevin Stapelton
I’ve been a volunteer tutor for SAVTE (Sheffield Association for the Voluntary Teaching of English) for two years. When I took early retirement I was looking at what to do that would be rewarding and useful. I went to Conversation Club where a former colleague taught and really enjoyed it. I met really interesting people with fascinating stories to tell. It inspired me to want to go further and do more.
I discovered SAVTE ran training courses for people with no experience in teaching, and signed up. I had to make a commitment to teaching one-to-one in a learner’s homes in order to take up the training. I did that for six months and moved onto running a conversation group of mainly beginners. Now I lead a ‘high level’ group for people with an already good standard of English but who need to develop it. Many are professionals in their home countries, health professionals, engineers et cetera.
It is the only group of its kind in Sheffield, allowing people to develop a more sophisticated vocabulary. We get speakers in every week, such as Sheffield councillors, a senior lecturer in metallurgy from Hallam University, as well as a Palestinian film-maker and a woman who set up her own catering business. They help the students learn new skills and get ideas to develop their own careers.
Anyone interested should just give it a try! SAVTE always needs more volunteers. There are details on the website (savte.org.uk). The High Level Conversation Club meets at Vestry Hall, Burngreave, 10 – 11.30 on Wednesdays.