Welcome to the UK was established in 2014 and then became a constitution charity.
How we began
Everything started through personal experiences. When Welcome to the UK's founder, Ilda Stafa, came to the UK, she couldn’t speak any English. She felt very isolated and needed someone to help her find out more about how to settle in Southend-on-Sea, so she decided to do something about it! Welcome to the UK was set up to support families from overseas to positively engage in their community.
Our weekly sessions
- On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we offer free ESOL classes run by our experienced teachers. We run classes for all levels from beginners to more advanced speakers.
- On Wednesdays, Early Help from Southend Borough Council operates a drop in service from 10-12.30pm to help our members by giving general advice and assistance with applying for housing, benefits, schools and much more.
- On Fridays, we have our busiest day with a friendship group. Members can share experiences, identify problems, and take action to resolve them. It is also a nice opportunity to relax and practice your English.
During Welcome to the UK's friendship group on a Friday, there is a fun and educational crèche. The professional and qualified staff from A Better Start Southend run this crèche where children can play and have fun. The early years foundation stage sets standards for learning, development, and care for your child from birth to 5 years old and we try to incorporate this into each session.
We collaborate with many primary schools to support families with children in an academic and social setting. We can also assist with school applications and getting the right support if your child has additional needs.
Welcome to the UK's aim is to improve our members' family social life. We often run events where our members get out into the community to enjoy what Southend has to offer. One such event was a visit to one of the best attractions of Southend, the Sea Life Adventure. We were pleased to have a day out with 45 parents and children. We had an amazing time and the children especially were fascinated by sea life.
We also regularly visit Southend Library where we encourage our members to open an account to borrow books. Some of our members now have children who love the library and use it often.
Since 2017, we partnered with Healthwatch to show our members all the departments of the Southend University Hospital. The Southend University Hospital staff gave our families a tour of all the different sections of the hospital so they could be more familiar and confident about what services were available to them.
Other activities we are involved in which help our members build confidence include celebrating International Women's Day, Christmas parties, beach clean ups, cycling classes, 1:1 support, workshops to gain new skills and much more.
Ongoing partnerships and support
Over the years, Welcome to the UK continues to spread the word about what we do through presentations and getting involved in many local events.
We also work in close partnership with a number of local charities and businesses such as Southend Council and the Department of Work and Pensions. This is so our members not only get to know their community but learn English, get a job and support themselves and their family in a meaningful and positive way.
Since Welcome to the UK began, we have helped more than 250 families from 16 different nationalities overcome challenges that newcomers face when they move to a new country.
Many of our future plans include continuing to operate out of our hubs in the Victoria Shopping Centre and expanding into other areas of Southend. We aim to help as many newcomers as possible and work with more schools and cultural/religion centres in Southend!
Please help us continue our contribution and reach our goals by supporting us today!