A pilot program using theatre to teach English to refugees has shared in more than $343,000 in community grants from Hume council.

Not-for-profit group EQubed, in conjunction with Broadmeadows Performing Arts, received $3500 from the council to develop the six-month pilot program that will use performing arts to promote the learning of English as an Additional Language among Hume’s new arrivals.

Broadmeadows Performing Arts’ Damien Pree said he came up with the idea for the program after talking with new arrivals about their experiences learning English.

“A number of students talk about how they get a lot of opportunities to read and write English but they are looking for ways to listen and practise their English,” he said.

“The big issue for many refugees and migrants is that until they have a good understanding of English, it is very difficult for them to make money and be employed.

“I want to find ways to use performing arts to assist in English acquisition so we can reduce the time it takes for refugees to become employed.”

The council issued grants to 150 other local organisations, including Campbellfield’s Second Chance Animal Rescue, which plans to use the money to develop an outreach program to support community members to take care of their pets; and the Gladstone Park Senior Citizens Club, which will use the money to engage more seniors in activities.

Mayor Geoff Porter said the grants helped local groups to deliver services.

“These organisations help make our community vibrant, and many of their activities would not be possible without some financial support,” he said,