Arco, the UK's leading safety products and services company, is providing £5,000 of funding to the children's reading charity Ready, Steady, Read to restart activities following the COVID-19 pandemic is also encouraging its colleagues to volunteer their time and support the charity as reading mentors, helping to improve the reading skills of children in the Hull area.
Ready, Steady, Read was established to support children with reading difficulties and provides volunteer mentoring support, dedicated reading resources and books to help local children.
The charity currently partners with Hull primary schools to help identify children whose reading is falling behind and supplies reading mentors to provide one-to-one support to children to help them gain an age-appropriate reading level.
The onset of the pandemic resulted in the charity's 34 volunteers no longer being able to go into schools and it is only during this current autumn term that volunteers are starting to return to schools, but in smaller numbers.
Unable to provide one-to-one support and to address the skills gap in reading caused by the pandemic and long periods of classroom absences, the charity developed a Reading Challenge and Reader of the Week scheme to encourage children to continue with their reading.
The Reading Challenge began in autumn 2020 with seven schools taking part and by the end of the summer term, in 2021, 13 schools were participating.
The Reader of The Week Scheme started in January 2021 with awards for nominated children each week at participating schools.
The feedback from the schools and the children taking part was so positive that the charity has incorporated these new reading schemes into the ongoing support they can offer to schools and 18 schools are now participating in the scheme during the current autumn term.
It is still a difficult and unusual time for schools, but Ready, Steady, Read is hoping to build its volunteer numbers up again and return to its pre-pandemic levels of one-to-one reading support during the spring term in 2022 in tandem with the new reading schemes.
Arco will be the official sponsor of the spring term Reader of the Week scheme and it is anticipated that approximately 4,500 children will take part.
Anna Harvatt, Community Engagement Manager at Arco, said:
"Arco is delighted to have partnered with Ready, Steady, Read and looks forward to helping the charity deliver on its aim of improving reading skills across Hull.
"As well as funding to help Ready, Steady, Read re-start its activities following the pandemic, we will also be encouraging our colleagues to volunteer as reading mentors.
"Through our work in the community, Arco is committed to supporting projects that inspire children and young people to achieve their full potential and this is very much at the heart of what Ready, Steady, Read does day-in and day-out."
Joanne Walker, Founder of Ready, Steady, Read, said:
"A good level of literacy is the foundation of all education and here at Ready, Steady, Read we are committed to improving outcomes for children who are falling behind in reading, to close the gap between children's reading age and their chronological age and to help children develop a lifelong love of reading, which in turn, supports the rest of their education.
"Working alongside partners like Arco, we are aiming to support hundreds of children across the Hull area to develop essential literacy skills and the confidence and love for reading they need to succeed at school and in life."