Creative English for Health – FaithAction Begins New Programme in Birmingham

FaithAction have recently been awarded funding by Birmingham City Council to deliver our community-based ESOL programme, Creative English, with places of worship, faith-based and community organisations within Birmingham. Designed through Dr Anne Smith’s PhD research into belonging, Creative English carries the tagline ‘laugh your way to confident English’ and aims to help learners build confidence in spoken English whilst making friends, improving their wellbeing and reducing social isolation amongst tseldom heard communities. The programme uses themes such as shopping, talking to teachers, and going to the doctor’s to equip people with the skills they need to feel empowered in their everyday life.

The programme in Birmingham, however, has also been designed to meet an additional need. Flu and respiratory issues amongst children born during the COVID-19 outbreak have been a pressing public health issue since summer 2021. According to data gathered by Birmingham City Council, there is a higher likelihood of children under 18 being admitted to hospital with respiratory health issues in the areas where a larger percentage of the population have low levels of English.  Parents with little or no English language ability feel much less confident about registering for and accessing primary health services and are less likely to do so as a result. Thus, there is an overrepresentation of migrant groups presenting directly to acute services rather than registering with their GP or using 111. As a voice into and for the communities who experience the highest levels of health inequality in the UK, FaithAction has developed an innovative response to approaching this.

Creative English for Health is a programme of learning about child and family health matters, accessing support and services, raising awareness, and building confidence for speakers of English as a second language. Information, advice and key messaging on children’s respiratory health is embedded in the programme – ensuring it reaches higher-risk families quickly and effectively. The project includes sessions on: making the best use of your GP appointment, using NHS 111, vaccinations, dealing with minor ailments, and healthy eating.

To date, Creative English has impacted over 15,000 participants, with 87% registering with or visiting their local GP/hospital/pharmacy for the first time and reporting increased confidence in speaking to health professionals.

We are holding an online Discovery Event at 11am on Tuesday 12th July, where organisations can come along and find out about the programme and the funding, and also ask any questions they might have. For those who work with us, we would train volunteers to deliver the project within the postcodes covered by Birmingham City Council, and in return for meeting certain targets regarding engagement of learners and data collection on health literacy, we would provide a resource kit and a grant of up to £5000 for delivering the project between now and March 2023.

Get in touch!

If you’d like to join our Online Discovery Event or just want more info, leave us your details below or get in touch with Charlie by emailing [email protected] or by calling 07858 968 332 (Tue-Fri).

About Charlie Gibson

Engagement Officer

Charlie works across multiple FaithAction projects supporting the organisations we work with to deliver their work in their communities. She trains and supports volunteers to run Creative English, as well as co-writing the course material with Anne—most recently focussing on Creative English for Health: Caring for my Family.

As part of her client-facing role, Charlie loves visiting the projects and organisations we work with and can often be found joining in with Creative English sessions, having her blood pressure tested, doing a yoga class, or even cycling nine miles around London parks on our Faith Health Action Partnership project in Tower Hamlets.

In 2020, she completed a Masters in Applied Theatre: Drama in Education, Community and Social Contexts at Goldsmiths, University of London. Outside of work, Charlie lives with her husband on a 62ft narrowboat, which is painted the same colour as their favourite bird—the kingfisher.