As a Community Interest Company, Read With Me aims to help the children of Gloucestershire realise their potential and secure a successful future. Of course, we would be unable to do this without the appropriate funding, but where our funding comes from is important to us. This is why we are grateful to be partnered with some outstanding organisations that allow us to offer our vital service. Over the last two years, Magnox Ltd has provided us with grant funding that has allowed us to grow and respond to the overwhelming need to hear children read and also provide one to one sessions that allow them to develop their social skills and confidence. Their support has enabled us to increase our administration capacity to triple the number of volunteers we send into schools and also funded their training and ongoing resources. Read With Me now has 200 volunteers in more than 30 schools and we deliver our Not So Secret Book Clubs every school holiday. Administrative capacity allows us to deploy an army of free, highly motivated volunteers. Additional funding has allowed us to flex that capacity and recruit, train and implement our service in a raft of new schools. We believe that the relationship we cultivate with our volunteers is worth investing in, and to do so takes time and resources. This approach means we are able to maintain high volunteer retention rates, resulting in sustained connections between our volunteers and the children they help – the importance of which cannot be overstated.
As the future becomes increasingly uncertain, we must ensure that every child has the building blocks they need for growth. Learning to read is a skill that will last a lifetime; we want every child across Gloucestershire to be able to read well by the time they reach secondary school. This will in turn improve their access and aspirations to work and education through increased confidence and social skills. We would not be able to work towards this goal without the sustained funding we have received from our partners, including Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and Gloucestershire Community Foundation which have been supporting us since our inception. Similarly, Magnox Ltd.’s two-year commitment has been instrumental in helping us make a difference to the next generation, in the Stonehouse area and beyond.
Looking forward, we plan to scale our service by offering it to even more children in even more schools. However, we are only able to do so safe in the knowledge that we can sustain our current model. Although our running costs are extremely low and our model is hugely effective, without a secure financial footing we would be unable to continue growing our organisation. Unfortunately, improving children’s literacy is no mean feat, and there is no quick fix. It will take more than a generation of children to make a profound difference. The reason we have been able to make such strides towards our goal is thanks to our partners, our volunteers and careful planning. Many of the children we support lack stability, and it is critical that we remain present throughout a child’s primary development as a constant support. Therefore, we must continue to forge strong partnerships and create firm foundations from which we are able to grow and foster growth in the local community.
If you work for or run an organisation which would like to work with us to affect this sea change, please get in touch. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 07791110906.