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Volunteers sought to help improve literacy in children


Read With Me was established in Gloucestershire by Linda Cohen in 2020 after her work in Somerset primary schools had highlighted the disadvantage that not being heard to read, or read to, at home could bring, but also how it could be corrected with just one or two sessions of reading each week.

From September Read With Me is expanding the number of schools they work with in the Stroud area and are seeking volunteers to hear children read, to ensure that each child can read well by the time they leave primary school.

“We ask our volunteers to commit to one or two sessions a week for between one and a half and three hours per session,” explained Julie Jenner, Volunteer Liaison Manager.

“They hear each child read for 10-15 minutes. It’s an opportunity for dedicated one-to-one time and for the child to develop conversation, social skills and confidence. We run sessions every morning and afternoon and hear children in all age groups from Reception through to Year 6. We provide the necessary training and give ongoing support as well as having semi-regular volunteer meet ups, which gives the volunteers the opportunity to meet with each other and also members of the Read With Me staff team.”

Volunteers have spoken about what they gain from working in schools: “Helping the children progress and nurturing their enthusiasm for reading as well as witnessing their improved personal confidence has been such a gift,” said Emma Bovill.

Nicholas Harris added: “Working with Read With Me is a complete joy. Getting to know the children, seeing the difference our sessions make to their self-esteem (and even their reading skills) after only a few weeks, discovering how much we volunteers are appreciated by the teachers — all this makes my regular Thursday afternoon visit an absorbing and rewarding experience.”

“My Read With Me sessions, twice a week, are a complete joy. I’ve been volunteering for more than a year now, seeing the same children each week grow in confidence and maturity over that time. It is a privilege to give your time, helping children to love reading. And there’s a lot of fascinating conversations too!” added Beth Whittaker.

Read With Me founder, Linda Cohen said: “Every child needs to read well to take a full part in education and benefit from everything that life has to offer. Many of the children we hear read are never heard to read or read to at home.

“Our children have a real poverty of life experience, even if they can read a word, they often don’t know what it means. Some have never been to the seaside; many have never left the area in which they live. We are able to expand their horizons and take a real interest in what makes them tick.  We enhance our impact with whatever ‘floats their boat’ – additional book titles, craft materials, chess sets and we encourage them to fulfil their potential.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer or interested in learning more should contact julie@readwithme.org.uk or visit https://readwithme.org.uk/ 

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