ChangeX currently has 21 social innovations live that people can get started in their communities. We were very excited to see which ideas would be the most popular with our ChangeX100 starters secretly made internal bets (we won’t reveal them today!)
The success of Street Feast was no surprise and it fell at a great time right at the halfway point of our campaign. However, to keep things fair and ensure an even distribution, we just counted 20 starters for Street Feast. It’s a simple, yet incredibly impactful idea.
So, here is a breakdown of all the numbers:
Fàilte Isteach, conversational English Classes for migrants is the idea we found most starters for around the country. Why is that? We spoke to Ariana from Third Age, who runs the programme to find out more about the success.
Congratulations! If there was something like a winner for ChangeX100 it would be Fàilte Isteach!
Thank you very much. ChangeX100 provided us with a wonderful opportunity to publicise the Fàilte Isteach project at a national level. It is a lovely surprise and is very heartening to see that there is still such a great demand for the project and that so many communities are interested in getting involved.
So why do you think you attracted so many starters?
Like many of the solutions, Fàilte Isteach is a simple concept which has the potential for big impact. There are still many migrants living in Ireland who are isolated and face struggles in their daily lives because of a lack of English language knowledge.
Through their dedication and enthusiasm, our current team of volunteers are not just helping migrants improve their English language skills but are also helping to build stronger, more integrated communities, and are making a real and lasting difference to community cohesion in the areas in which they live.
Did you get a chance to chat to a few of the new starters? What’s your impression? Will all the planned classes see the light of day?
Yes I have chatted to many of the new starters and certainly hope that all of the groups will come to fruition over the coming months â€“ listening to their enthusiasm I have no doubt they will.
In fact a number of groups have already received training and are now up and running. There are others who are very committed and, like in West Cork, have even expressed an interest in starting a number of classes. Many of the starters are currently recruiting volunteers and hope to schedule training shortly.
Give us an idea of the impact that each of those classes will have in an area.
Imagine what it must be like to live in a country where you don’t know the language. Think how lonely and isolated you would feel at times. Consider how difficult it would be to manage day to day â€“ to shop, to visit the doctor, to go to the bank, never mind helping your children with their homework or attending a parent teacher meeting.
Being part of Fàilte Isteach has helped our migrant students to improve their language skills and has hopefully helped to make these daily tasks a little bit easier. It’s also contributing to a caring society which values diversity.
How about the volunteers, especially older people? Being part of Third Age, Fàilte Isteach is also about engaging them more in the community, providing opportunities for an active retirement.
Yes Third Age aims to respond to the opportunities and challenges of ageing in Ireland. As a programme of Third Age, Fàilte Isteach benefits from the skills, talents and expertise of older volunteers and their desire to contribute positively to society. Our volunteers often tell us that they too benefit greatly from tutoring on the project. We often hear them say â€œWe get so much more than we giveâ€ â€“ which is wonderful!
After ChangeX100, we are ready for the next 100 starters. Are there areas still uncovered and in need?
Fàilte Isteach currently has presence in 22 counties. We would be delighted to support communities in the remaining four counties to start a class if they were interested in doing so and we would encourage organisations or individuals in Leitrim, Monaghan, Longford and Westmeath to contact us if they would like to learn more about the project.
In saying this, we rely on local knowledge to inform us about areas of greatest need and are happy to support all communities who feel they would benefit from a Fàilte Isteach group in their community.
I’d imagine the biggest need for Fàilte Isteach is in the more urban areas? Is that right?
In fact this isn’t always the case as cities and bigger towns often offer such a range of services and activities already. There is often a bigger demand in smaller rural communities, where other services are less widely available.
Remember, Fàilte Isteach began in Summerhill, Co Meath â€“ itself a comparatively small community – however, every Tuesday evening we still welcome almost 30 participants to our conversational English class.
Are you considering going international with the idea? You will probably need a new name then…?
Perhaps we will see conversational classes called â€œBienvenueâ€ and â€œWillkommenâ€ emerging in countries across Europe. We would certainly be delighted to share our model with those who feel they could benefit from it.