Give the gift of reading and help change a child’s life this year

Bristol residents are being asked to consider giving up one hour a week to help change a child’s life in 2016 and help kids improve their reading.

Bristol Reading Partners, the council’s flagship reading scheme, has launched a fresh call for volunteers to help expand the initiative and benefit even more pupils across the city this year.

The scheme works with children aged 5-7 who are in need of a little extra help, and matches pupils with volunteers who want to help give primary school children a better start in life. There are now over 70 volunteers working in schools in all parts of Bristol – and over 250 children have benefitted from the scheme.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, is championing Bristol Reading Partners. He said:

“This year, Bristol’s year of Learning, I want to highlight the many opportunities there are in Bristol for us all to learn something new, and, crucially, I want to see more children across our city learning to read fluently. Children who are able to read well have access to many different opportunities, which would otherwise remain closed to them. Better reading skills also often mean improved achievement at school, which helps to break down some of the barriers that prevent children from reaching their full potential.

“Within the Council we’re totally committed to this initiative to the extent that staff are allowed time off as well as donating some of their own time to help give something back to the community.”

The response from local people has already been outstanding with over 50 volunteers signing up in the past six months. There is compelling evidence that Bristol Reading Partners works as volunteers work with teachers to track pupils’ progress.

Dominic Murphy, Chief Service Officer for Cities of Service, said:

“When a child is struggling with their reading it’s important to give them some extra support to build their confidence. Through Bristol Reading Partners, volunteers have a real opportunity to make a difference to a new generation whilst meeting new people and boosting their own skill set.”

More volunteers are wanted to work with schools all across the city. Anyone interested in getting involved can attend a free training session on 14 January or 22 February 2016 at BAWA cricket club in Filton and The Bridge Professional Development Centre.

Businesses are also encouraged to get involved with the scheme as a way to give back to their local communities. One way for businesses to get involved is through Ablaze, a business-led charity which has been supporting school children in Bristol and South Gloucestershire for over 10 years.

Last year Ablaze became involved with the Bristol Reading Partners scheme, as well as running their own reading scheme in some of the most deprived areas of Bristol.

For more information about this scheme, or to sign up, contact volunteer@bristol.gov.uk