A CHARITY that helps to teach English to Barnsley’s refugee, asylum and migrant community has been given an eviction notice to vacate their premises.
ELSH, Educational Learning Support Hub - who were previously based on Sheffield Road - reopened their doors at the ELIM Community Centre on Warren Quarry Lane in November 2020 after being forced to close in March following government advice around the lockdown restrictions.
The charity’s founder, Florentine Bootha-King, told the Chronicle the team are ‘feeling the pressure’ after the news, and are desperately searching for a new building, to allow them to continue supporting those in need.
“We are worried that we’ll be unable to keep providing for those who need us - that is our main concern,” Florentine said.
“We provide a positive, safe and stimulating environment for young parents, young adults, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to enjoy their learning, achieve their potential, and to successfully integrate, become independent and part of the local community.”
ELSH provide free entry one, entry two and entry three ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) in addition to basic maths and IT skills.
Brandon Woodcock, another member of the ELSH team, added: “It’s really sad we’ve been given a short amount of time to move out, because it means we have to kind of drop the news on our students out of the blue when they won’t be expecting it.
“We’ve built really good relationships with our students over the years, and have seen them progress and move into higher education - we don’t want them to feel like we’ve abandoned them.
“We are always looking but a lot of the empty shops within the town centre are privately owned and the monthly rent would be a fortune - more than we could afford.”
The group worry they are running out of time and feel they have ‘exhausted’ all their options.
Another member of the group, Alan Curtis, said: “We need all the help we can get - we don’t have a lot of money so we have to work with what we do have.
“Even if we could just secure a temporary teaching space so we can carry on helping our students - anything at all would be really helpful.
“We’re a safe and welcoming space and want to be there for those who need us - we won’t be able to if we can’t find anywhere else to operate from.”