How Dilara went from learner to volunteer

This Volunteers Week we're sharing Dilara's journey from English My Way learner to valued Skills Enterprise volunteer

Dilara volunteers for Skills Enterprise, a community organisation based in Newham, East London. Skills Enterprise takes a holistic approach to addressing digital exclusion, tackling it alongside food poverty, financial strain and language barriers. Dilara originally came to Skills Enterprise as a learner, taking part in English My Way, a community-based ESOL programme which supported adults with no or low levels of English language skills.

When she first came to Skills Enterprise, Dilara couldn’t speak English, but she was keen to break down the language barriers she was facing and to begin giving back to the community, as well as find work to help her support her family. After completing English My Way, Dilara moved on to the Learn My Way platform, helping her to develop digital skills while also building on her English language learning. Once she’d done so, Dilara made the move from learner to volunteer, and became a go-to for digital and employment support amongst Skills Enterprise’s learners.

Dilara understands our users because she has been in the same situation as the users she supports.

Dilara goes above and beyond the call of duty as a volunteer. “Whenever we host any events, she’s there to help set up laptops, she’ll bring samosas and serve drinks during sessions. She also encourages the wider community to come to Skills Enterprise, speaking to parents at her children’s school, encouraging them to come along and giving them the confidence that if she did it, they can too”, says Malathy, Project Manager at Skills Enterprise.

During coronavirus lockdowns, Dilara has helped Skills Enterprise get devices to digitally excluded members of the community as part of Good Things Foundation’s Everyone Connected programme, and was able to use her translation skills to support members of the community who speak Bengali and little or no English to get started with using their devices, inviting them to introductory Zoom training sessions.

“A journey like this doesn’t happen overnight,” says Malathy, “Dilara took the time to break through language and confidence barriers being had in relation to using digital. Dilara understands our users because she has been in the same situation as the users she supports. She is an example to users of what you can achieve through LearnMyWay.”

Volunteering for Skills Enterprise has also enhanced Dilara’s own work-based skills, providing her with extensive digital and people skills to add to her CV. Following her work with Skills Enterprise, she has now progressed into further education, studying for Level 2 qualification in both Health and Social Care and Childcare, with a view to a career in childcare.


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More about the Network

The Online Centres Network is made up of thousands grassroots organisations, all working to tackle digital and social exclusion by providing people with the skills and confidence they need to access digital technology.