Hello Preston

The Faith Forum launched the Hello Preston project in Autumn 2016 in order to help refugees and asylum seekers in Central Lancashire.

Children with cakes donated from Bake for Syria during adults’ English conversation classes

Children with cakes donated from Bake for Syria during adults’ English conversation classes

The Family Integration Project

Starting a new life in a vastly different part of the world and having to learn to read, write and speak a new language can pose great challenges: anxiety, fear, lack of confidence and worries.

Established in November 2016 upon the arrival of eleven Syrian families into our city and with start-up funding from the Faith Forum, Hello Preston! with the dedication, support and guidance of Arabic interpreters, advisers and volunteers, encourages the integration of refugee families into communities in Preston. Hello Preston! holds English conversation classes, a crèche, Arabic classes, Home Visits, Ladies’ Night, Cultural Evenings, Dinners and trips.

If you’d like to know more about how to get involved with these community-building projects or have any great ideas to contribute, please contact Jen through the City of Sanctuary.

Keen students of Arabic with teachers Faten and Abdullah

Keen students of Arabic with teachers Faten and Abdullah

Arabic classes

Hello Preston! has run Arabic reading and writing classes since January 2017, attended by a mixture of volunteers at Hello Preston! and people who benefit from being able to communicate in Arabic as part of their work.

After a few months of studying to read the second most difficult language in the world (after Korean), the fun bit starts: communicating and having conversations in Arabic alongside native Arabic speakers!

Preston’s Arabic-speaking population has increased in recent years with Preston City of Sanctuary welcoming Eritreans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Sudanese and Syrians. Breaking down cultural barriers with a few words of Arabic makes all the more reason to learn the language!

Hello Preston! received funding from Church Urban funding for a six month project which means that classes are provided for free! As it’s proving to be such a success, we’d like to welcome more enthusiastic learners. Please contact Jen at City of Sanctuary for more information.

Selection of traditional Syrian cuisine

Selection of traditional Syrian cuisine

Cultural Evening and Dinner

After six months of Hello Preston!’s family-learning project, a celebratory Cultural Evening and Dinner was held on Monday, 8th May 2017.

Syrian families were encouraged to bring home made dishes and they brought abundant varieties to feed a crowd of eighty: falafel, red tabbouleh (pomegrante and herb salad), jeddara, dhaal (lentils), baba ghanouj (aubergine dip), hummous, mohammata (chilli dip), beetroot dip, stuffed vine leaves, kibbeh (Leventine dish with bulgar wheat and onions), pizzas, samosas… Others brought semolina cakes, pies, pastries, tarts, meringue… Not only this, but regular Talk English volunteers affiliated to Red Cross Drop In Centre for asylum seekers attended armed with an array of dishes. Our regular and committed volunteers at Hello Preston! brought homemade sushi and hummous to compete with the Syrians!

The enormous buffet was devoured and later guests relaxed to enjoy some poetry, guitar music with vocal harmonies from duo Porter and May (one-half of the illustrator of Preston City of Sanctuary logo, Hannah Cobb) and guitarist Felicity Moore.

The crèche ran as usual with experienced Hello Preston! volunteers leading Pass the Parcel and other party games.

The evening ended with a lively Happy Birthday song for Arabic interpreter Faten and culminated with four enthusiastic young Syrian men dancing a traditional Bedouin ‘dabke’ with Arabic keyboard.

Because of the popularity and success of the event, Hello Preston! is offering to conduct a series of Arabic cooking classes. A Kurdish dance and music party will be planned in due course. Please contact Jen through the City of Sanctuary for more information.