A few days ago I was invited to a charity dinner at John Wheatley College in the East End of Glasgow, by a member of the Dialogue Society. Some of you will remember that our church has had a connection with this group of Turkish university graduates, who follow a Sufi tradition of Islam, for about seven years, since the time of Alastair Bate.
On three separate occasions they shared an Iftar dinner with us in Berkeley Street during Ramadan, and another time we held a joint Inter Faith meeting in the Centre. Remembering what interesting and delightful company I had found them, I accepted with alacrity, and was not disappointed. The dinner showcased the work of a charity they have founded, the NES – the Nurture Educational and Cultural Society. I asked my host, Omer Yalcinkaya, to tell me about it. Here is his account.
The NES has been teaching children aged between 6 and 14, since April 2004, started at Annette Street in Govanhill, in Paisley and recently at the John Wheatley College. NES offers them help in the areas of Language, Maths/Science and IT, along with social activities such as painting and drawing. (From the film footage, I think there is acting, too.)
Languages: Turkish language to those with a link to speakers of other languages. This is sometimes linked by marriages between Turkish background families and families from Scottish, Pakistani or other backgrounds, if they want their children to learn Turkish. Or we can teach Turkish to British adults if they want to learn the language before moving to Turkey. English language is taught usually to members of Turkish families, recently moved to this country, who may have poor command of English, but who want to integrate into British life and community but are struggling with the language.
Maths/Science and IT: We offer help to students who have difficulties in understanding these subjects in state schools.
Social activities are aimed to entertain children with various fun-based activities. The children come to college to entertain themselves, instead of spending time in the streets, picking up bad habits such as drugs, smoking, drinking and criminal activities. If some of them show exceptional skills, we try to channel them into specialised schools (e.g. art and music) in the area.
Student numbers range from 30 to 45 within the year.
The teachers are mainly volunteers, depending what subject they are teaching. We have teachers who are teaching their subject in State schools and some doctorate students from the universities. We reach the children through contacts with friends and families, references, and connections with other community groups.
There is no obligation to come to our classes, but I do know that some of them come from as far as Edinburgh, Stirling, Ayrshire, Kilmarnock etc.
The children build up very good relationships with their fellows, and with their teachers, so that parents tell us that their children insist on coming to the Saturday classes.
Contributed by Janet Briggs who can supply contact details.