Oasis in the community

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In the first of a series of blogs, Linda Pepper tells of the vision for the Oasis Language School in Ipswich – how it started, grew and affected people’s lives.

Stories of people and dreams inspire us, stories of new birth encourage us and make us smile, stories of trial and determination raise our levels of empathy and courage.

Maureen Huntley saw a need back in 2003 for a way to reach the immigrant population of an area of central Ipswich around the Norwich Road, Burlington Road and London Road area. Did that last one jog a memory? London Road was the home of the serial killer in 2006 who murdered 5 women. The whole area is marked by its poor standard of housing, by the groups of unemployed migrants who loiter on the streets, by the number of different languages spoken. It is not like the rest of Ipswich at all!

And in this place, on these streets, are 4 Evangelical Churches… our story begins with one of them.

A community project needs a visionary leader to get it off the ground, one who doesn’t just see but one who responds. One who doesn’t just have an idea, but one who motivates others to put it into practice. Maureen inspired Ipswich International Church to invest. A computer suite was opened, a lunch club was begun and some English lessons were offered. The computers kept breaking, the lunch club invited community but not integration, and the English lessons began to be the real story.

But time does not stand still. Felt needs keep changing. Ideas are superseded. Visionaries retire. And one Church is seldom big enough to sustain a growing organism.

So, from humble, mixed beginnings, Oasis English Language School was born in August 2016.

Next time, I’ll tell you about it!

– Linda Pepper (www.oasisenglish.org.uk)

The views carried here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Network Suffolk