If you’ve ever attended a SPEAK London language exchange event, the chances that you’ve met Nataliya are really high. As one of the co-founders of SPEAK London, Nataliya has been fundamental in creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for language learners of all levels. 

online language exchange from SPEAK London and SPEAK Madrid
Language exchange online event, SPEAK London x SPEAK Madrid

The start of the journey 

Originally from Bulgaria, Nataliya has called London home since 2012. When she first arrived in London one of her biggest challenges was the language barrier and also feeling isolated from the community around her. 

Nataliya co-founder of SPEAK London
Nataliya, co-founder of SPEAK London

Thankfully, with the help of free English classes in a local church, and the support of some people in her community, she was able to improve her English skills and start building connections in her new city. It was because of this experience that she decided to become a SPEAK Founder, she had the purpose to help others who might be facing similar challenges. 

Since she join the SPEAK London team in 2019, Nataliya has helped countless participants in London to connect with one another and improve their skills. She was a buddy in a couple of language groups. Also, led some online events.

“I love helping people and connecting, building meaningful relationships and hearing different points of view.”


First steps with SPEAK

For Nataliya, the most rewarding part of being a SPEAK Founder is seeing the impact the organization has on people’s lives. 

“My community loved the 12 sessions and often when was time to end the last one they start asking to go over again and even celebrate to a restaurant our successful time together.”

From helping participants land a new job thanks to their improved language skills, to witnessing the bonds that form between participants and buddies over the 12 sessions, Nataliya was able to see first-hand the power of connection in the community. 

“All of my participants were Bulgarians who wanted to be better in English. We became so close to each other that felt like a family”

Of course, being a SPEAK Founder hasn’t been easy, she had some challenges along the way. She recalls feeling nervous and unsure when she led her first group in London.

“One of the biggest challenges was where to start with, how to do it in that huge city of London…” she said. But with the support of the other co-founders, Mariana and Inês, and her participants, she found her way and hasn’t left ever since. 

SPEAK’s impact

Being part of SPEAK has really impacted Nataliya’s life. “It made me more focused, and organised and challenged me to think in a future community-based way.” she said, referring to the impact at a personal level.

Also, she managed to make a lot of people with whom she proudly says she built great relationships. “Some of them I am still neighbours with and see each other very often. Others I promise will go and visit them soon I hope.”

Looking to the future, Nataliya is excited to continue growing SPEAK’s London impact. For her, social inclusion means building a community that’s understanding, accepting, and supportive of one another. And with SPEAK, she’s doing just that.  

Founders of SPEAK London
Founders from SPEAK London, Nataliya is the second one from the left

How to support SPEAK London?

Help Nataliya, Inês and Mariana to keep building a supportive community in London. Join as a buddy and help migrants and refugees in London not only to learn a new language but also create a support system in which they can find new meaningful relationships to battle against social exclusion. 

Author: Doménica Torres

Doménica is a marketing intern at SPEAK. She is curiouse for what the world has to offer. She is originally from Ecuador but lives in Portugal since 2019. Besides her marketing passion she also loves music as her hobby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *