Foundation Trustee Councillor Dowson enjoys visit to ESOL class

Leeds Rhinos Foundation was delighted to welcome Councillor Jane Dowson to meet participants of their ESOL programme, which helps people from the local community to learn English as their second language.

Each week, groups of up to 15 learners from a variety of different nations and ethnicities visit Emerald Headingley Stadium to attend the ESOL classes, which are run in conjunction with Leeds City Council’s Adult Community Learning scheme. The programme supports people to not only improve their language proficiency, but also develop key skills needed to assist them in finding employment in the UK.

With last week’s classes focusing on the topic of local councils, Leeds Rhinos Foundation Trustee Cllr Dowson was invited to come and speak with students about the council’s role within the community, how it is elected and the services it operates.

“I wanted to look first hand at some of the projects we run and how we actually help people in our community as a Foundation,” explained Cllr Dowson.

“What I’ve found today is our charity is doing some fantastic work to help a wonderful group of people who want to make Leeds their home, and recognise the value of learning the language to integrate within our society.”

“We have some fantastic teachers here who are not only teaching them the language but life skills as well, from something as simple as queueing to how to make a hospital or doctor’s appointment and so on.”

Having previously served as the 124th Lord Mayor of Leeds, taking office back in June 2017, Cllr Dowson says she is “immensely proud” of the way Leeds that has embraced its image as a diverse, inclusive city.

“Leeds is a city of sanctuary and we throw our arms open and recognise the value of people from wherever they are from in helping our city to be one of the best places to live and work in.”

“Speaking to the students today proves just that, and their enthusiasm was infectious. They have decided that they want to make a better life for themselves and they are using this programme as a way of learning our language, customs and practices so that they can be good citizens. I think that is truly admirable.”

Adult Learning Officer at Leeds Rhinos Foundation Jaci Hawkins commented: “One of the things that the students like to learn about is what actually happens in the UK and obviously the council is a major part of day-to-day life, as well as being a key component of their ‘Life in the UK’ test.

“The more our learners understand about the council and its services, the better for them and really the council too, because they can have intervention much earlier from knowing where to go if they have a problem.”

“We were delighted to welcome Councillor Dowson to visit our ESOL classes. We always encourage people to come and speak to the students because they can get used to meeting and speaking with different people on lots of important topics.”

For more information on Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s ESOL programme, please contact