After my Ethiopian adventure, a chance to reset the Wembley program; we had reduced almost to nothing before I left. As part of a new recruitment drive, I visited the Monday group; once a week, a group of volunteers with C4C (Care4Calais) meet up in a church in Wembley to offer a range of classes in English and offer somewhere warm for people to meet and perhaps access other services. I had arranged to come in to offer a taster class in the sort of activities I provide – some games and improvisations, and possibly, if a regular enough group is formed, then to look at the possibilities of producing some theatre. (In the end, that is always my objective; though I am appreciative of the benefits of drama as an activity, it is theatre that I love, in particular introducing others to its attractions, the way that it offers memories that can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, because I had double-booked myself, and had to rush off immediately after what was a foreshortened session, it did go about as well as I could have hoped. We had about twenty people there, and there was a good deal of laughter – always a good sign. And though it was pretty standard stuff, the sort on introduction I tend to fall into, that I have done a hundred times or more. And when I left, Hamed was able to carry on for a while, introducing them all to a game that he had learnt at a Drama session elsewhere. Which is exactly what I would like to happen; Hamed has a great deal to offer, and could be both a great help to me (or even a replacement) as well as developing useful (and marketable) skills himself.
Unfortunately, there is a problem. I had a low-key session at the Holiday In last wee, and Hamed was not allowed to come in; mas he is no longer an asylum-seeker, having attained the giddy heights of becoming a refugee) he is not allowed to join the class. As it happened, he pretty much was the class last week, so we simply decamped to a local coffee house for a chat, but it is an issue. We are looking into the possibility of him becoming a volunteer with C4C himself, so that he can then come in as my assistant, but this will require some hoops to be jumped through.
Anyway, he was still there for my session the day following my introductory session, exploiting a loophole which does allow him into the hotel if he is visiting someone, and simply slipping into the class. And along with him were about ten others. In fact, there were not so many from the session yesterday, and almost all of the newcomers were Iranian, so it appeared as though Hamed had been exploiting his own address book. But the result, all the same, were very positive. Not one of them had previously done anything of this kind before, but all of them appeared to enjoy things, and a couple of them were very good indeed. There did seem to be a willingness to return, so maybe there are some possibilities. Next week will be key.