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Meet our AMAZING ICM Volunteers

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Volunteers' Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering in their communities.

At the core of what we do at ICM is the belief that anyone can be a volunteer no matter who they are or where they come from.

Volunteering with ICM is a two way street. We aim to make sure our volunteers get as much out of the experience as the people and communities they help. There is little restriction to volunteering. Anyone can get involved. ICM volunteers come from all age-groups and all walks of life. Young people and adults, people of different genders, people from different communities of interest and ethnicity.


We are incredibly proud and thankful for of all of our volunteers and we couldn't do what we do without their help and support.


So let's meet some of the great people at the heart of ICM.


MEET OXANA

Oxana was born and grew up in Altai, a part of the Russian Federation. Whilst in Russia she studied psychology/childhood studies, followed by 3 years of Slovakian and Polish literature. In 2007 she moved to the UK to live with her husband. The same year she began ESOL classes with CSV, she moved on to Suffolk College where she passed Level 2 speaking and listening examinations and also gained her British citizenship. This was followed by a 2 year course at West Suffolk College, where she achieved a diploma in graphic design and photography. Since 2013 Oxana has also run a Russian school on Saturdays and Sundays

for local Russian children.


Oxana’s links with ICM developed out of her days at CSV as a student. She went on to volunteer her services interpreting and translating, and also used her new skills in photography to record official events and special occasions. However, it was following the invasion of the Ukraine that Oxana’s special skills have become so valuable. She became the volunteer in the Ukrainian refugee class and also interprets and translates for Ukrainian refugees on other matters outside of the classroom setting.


Oxana’s knowledge of psychology and learning combined with her 10 years of teaching Russian has equipped her well to a be a volunteer in the classroom. This is evidenced by her ability to identify learners who lack confidence or need extra help. This she does effectively, sensitively and discreetly.


Oxana has an excellent understanding of the roles within the classroom and works effectively in conjunction with the tutor. She is always punctual and reliable in her approach to her role. Her language skills also mean she understands the dynamics within the classroom, and the relationships between the learners.


The tutor states that Oxana is a very open, chatty and friendly person with a good sense of humour. Her jovial personality, she states, helps to create a relaxed and happy learning environment. Oxana also demonstrates a high level of empathy for the learners, although she was never a refugee she understands the losses and sadness involved in moving far from home, and making a new life in a foreign country with limited support and little understanding of the language.


"During my time as a volunteer, especially in ICM class, I came across. people with interesting and rich life experiences from different backgrounds.

We are part of this world and what happens in different part of the world affects us no matter where we are from. As someone who was born and brought up in Siberia, I see the aggressive invasion of part of Ukraine by the orders of Putin and his government, as a devastating war that brought enormous pain, suffering, and destruction to the life of innocent people and their land. Through my volunteering work I have the sense of obligation to help the victims of this terrible war. I feel proud to be able to help the Ukrainian refugee community in Ipswich."


MEET SIGNALDA

Signalda was born in 1981 and grew up in Sao Tome and Principe. After leaving school she returned to teach Maths. She was awarded a scholarship to study in Portugal in 2005. In Portugal she repeated her final year of education and a 6 month computer studies course. She had previously had no access to computers. She graduated in 2009 with an IT degree. This was followed by a self- funded MA in Public Management. During the course she married and had two children. She completed the course in 2015 and worked part time.


The down turn in the Portuguese economy led Signalda’s family to move to Ipswich in 2020. Initially they lived in one room in a relative’s house. Pregnant with her third child she did the childcare whilst others worked, eventually she found work. She quickly realised at the bacon factory that success in the UK was linked to speaking English. In 2021 Signalda joined an online ICM ESOL course. She subsequently attended college and passed her English Entry 2 and 3 speaking and listening exams and is working towards her writing exam. Signalda is an ICM volunteer and Community Champion and attends an ICM advanced ESOL class.


Signalda became an official volunteer for ICM in 2022. However, before this she had always helped in the class aiding communication between the learners and tutor by translating and interpreting. This role grew when she became an official volunteer, and she now works independently with small groups and individual learners on small group activities.


She has great empathy towards the students who like her and regard her as a friend. She shows great pride in the achievements of the learners she helps, and praises their achievements. She is always punctual, totally reliable and trustworthy. She is aware when people are feeling shy, nervous and frightened to speak and gives them extra attention and encouragement. She is very committed and always gives of her best.


"Volunteering has made me more confident and helped my mental health. When I am in class I forget about my children’s noise. I am happy when I am helping people. My learning is improved when I teach other people. I listen to people and try to do my best to help my community. When I can’t solve a situation I ask for help from others."


MEET ROMEO

Romeo is a very caring person and he has also been striving hard to support other Romanians, has put great efforts into forming a community group and encouraging and signposting many people towards English language provision. He is in the process of setting up a CIC and ICM is helping him with this.


Many of the signposted learners are attending online evening classes with ICM, Romeo has helped them fill up their registration forms and setting up their tablets to attend their classes and provided any other support they needed.


Romeo is now a volunteer / community champion with ICM, helping to share his knowledge and expertise with as many people as he can.


He has become very popular with other learners, with tutors and other staff, in part because of his pleasant and considerate nature but also because of his enthusiasm and the innovative ideas that he brings with him.


Romeo has also helped in translating many health-related messages for Burlington Surgery.


"As a student in the ESOL courses and being a volunteer / community champion, my life has been completely transformed since I joined Ipswich Community Media (ICM). Coming from a family-less background, I found a sense of family and community within ICM, which is why I have become a volunteer. Through my volunteering with ICM, I have not only helped others but have also helped myself by growing in confidence and self-esteem."


MEET JENOBA

Jenoba is originally from India and her first language is Tamil, although she is also fluent in Malayalam and in English. She is well-educated and holds a master’s degree.


Since coming to the UK, in 2017, Jenoba’s main focus has been taking care of her family (she is married and has two children), although she has always been keen to gain meaningful employment.


She really enjoys helping people and keeping busy so with these two goals in mind she decided to take on the role of volunteer teaching assistant at Ipswich Community Media, working with adult learners from a range of different nationalities and cultures, a role that she enjoys very much and which has helped to build her confidence. However, Jenoba is also passionate about supporting children, in particular, with their academic studies and with their emotional development and she really wants to work as a teaching assistant, in the future, with her long-term aim of possibly becoming a teacher.


Since beginning her volunteering journey at ICM, Jenoba has succeeded in making herself indispensable to learners, staff and to other volunteers. Always ready and willing to go that extra mile, she is able to work intuitively, appearing to know exactly what is needed without being asked. Jenoba has a great deal of empathy for others and this has led to her becoming a deeply valued Community Champion, allowing her to share her great skills and qualities with other members of the wider community and of the ICM team.


"Enrolling in ICM as a volunteer teaching assistant is a big leap in my personal and professional life. I have been a very shy homemaker and have spent most of my adulthood in taking care of my family. I was very short of confidence and did not have any aspirations beyond taking care of my family. ICM volunteering has significantly helped me to open up, communicate well with others. I drew immense happiness when helping people in need at ICM and able to teach those values about caring others to my children."


Thank you to ALL our volunteers and for being part of the ICM family.

As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers' wellbeing too.


It’s human nature to feel good after helping someone out. Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost your confidence.

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact hello@ipswichcm.org.uk.


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