Meet Chatterbox, language learning delivered by refugees

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Blog, Empower Life, Moments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here at Empower, we run digital marketing campaigns for people who change the world for good. Normally, that takes the shape charities and social good organisations that have got to the point of needing extra support and ideas to implement their digital and social media activity. Organisations like Amnesty International, UN Refugee Agency, The Engine Room and We Mean Business, for example.

But sometimes a new initiative comes across our radar and – if it’s for the right cause with the right people running the project – we’ll often give our time freely to help or even take on pro bono projects.

For the last few years, our team has been mentoring young Londoners as part of the UpRising programme – take a look at their One Million Mentors campaign, if you want to get involved too.

This year, we saw a project looking for digital marketing support being advertised on the Techfugees newsletter. When we got in touch and they responded positively, that was the start of our latest pro bono relationship. That project was Chatterbox, a language-learning service delivered by refugees.

To get to know them a little better, we spoke to the Chatterbox team – Mursal, Lena, and Ellie – to find out more about their project. And with Empower’s support, hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more about them as the project grows!

Chatterbox Language Learning By Refugees

What is Chatterbox?

Chatterbox is an online and in-person language-learning service delivered by refugees. We want to highlight the enormous potential that exists within the refugee community.

The venture uses refugees’ immensely valuable and largely untapped linguistic talent and cultural insights to catalyse their integration into the UK workforce- by employing them as language tutors. The tuition they deliver helps globally-minded organisations and individuals improve their language skills and deepen their understanding of another culture.

Where did the idea come from?

Our founder, Mursal, is from a refugee background. When she arrived in the UK in the 1990s, her mother, a civil engineer with over a decade of experience and speaking four languages, struggled to find work that made use of her abilities. This is a problem that still exists. Despite having above-average levels of education, refugees in the UK are more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, and have poor working conditions and lower pay, than the population average.

What’s the big vision for Chatterbox?

As Kainaaz, a Farsi tutor with Chatterbox, says; “I don’t want to be a burden to the government, I want to be an asset”. Chatterbox has the potential to transform the way society sees refugees, and to improve our country’s ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

We want to see businesses and universities across the UK benefitting from this innovative way to engage with refugee talent, leading the way in support for refugee integration. The UK isn’t the only country struggling to keep up with the challenges of refugee integration, and we’d like to take Chatterbox across Europe.

Chatterbox Language Learning By Refugees

How do you plan to keep the project sustainable?

We charge a fixed rate for our conversation practice, language tuition, and cultural training services. We pay our tutors the Living Wage, donate a portion of our income to provide English language classes for migrants, and the rest goes to maintaining and growing the business.

What stage is Chatterbox at now?

We recently completed Bethnal Green Ventures’ Tech-for-Good accelerator, and are excited to be launching with our first institutional client, SOAS University of London, this January!

Next, we’re looking to pilot with businesses and individual language learners – people can go to our website to register their interest in either of these.

Why did you look for marketing support?

We believe that we have created something really special with Chatterbox – we want to make sure people out there know about the venture and that they can join our community of language learners.

What impact has Empower had on the project so far?

The team from Empower have been incredible! From the outset, the advice we have received has been spot on – every single suggestion he has made has been relevant and actionable; he immediately understood the business and what we want to achieve.

Every meeting is action-oriented, which is why the pace of positive change has been so impressive. In less than a week, we received a custom report advising us on Chatterbox website’s SEO, a crafted and partly actioned strategy for our press launch in January, and all of this in the lead up to Christmas. We’re delighted to be working with Empower.

Are you looking for support in other areas?

Yes – we currently need support in the areas of web design and development, immigration and employment law, and graphic design.

We would also love to pilot with more organisations, especially universities, in the future so any connections here would be incredibly helpful.

Finally, spreading the news of our launch in January would be a great way to support us. Join our Thunderclap campaign here.

How can we keep updated with Chatterbox’s progress?

Follow Chatterbox on twitter, facebook, and Instagram, and go to our website to sign up for updates!

Chatterbox is all about human connection, so if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please get in touch.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks Empower, we love working with you!

Thanks for speaking to us, Chatterbox. We love the work you guys do too!