Skills for life

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


Set up in 2004, ABC to read safely recruits, trains and supports community volunteers to provide one-to-one mentoring of primary school children in Berkshire and a small area of Bucks who are struggling to read.
Each year we open up the eyes of hundreds of children to the joys of reading, helping them to gain an essential skill for life, thus improving their chances of gaining employment. We specifically help children who are not entitled to individual help through statutory funding. Up to 40% of the UK adult population in the UK’s most deprived areas lacks the literacy skills expected of an 11 year old? (National Literacy Trust). On an even larger scale, England’s young population are one of the lowest skilled globally; “while in England many young people are more likely than their parents’ generation to continue to further and higher education, too many still have weak basic skills.” (OECD: ‘Building Skills for All’). In Berkshire alone, the figures are no less unsettling. The problems are rooting from an early age.ABC to read exists - to help bridge this gap in our community and give deprived children more of a chance to succeed in their futures.
Our project relies on the efforts of community volunteers. Our volunteers spend half an hour with each pupil twice a week in school. The child and their mentor pursue a range of literacy-based activities, such as sharing books, playing games and enjoying conversation. This encourages the building of the pupil’s literacy skills, as well as their confidence and self-esteem. All our volunteers go through a stringent recruitment and training process, including DBS checks and safeguarding, to ensure the best quality assistance is offered to the children.
ABC to read is a not-for-profit organisation. We do hold reserves for emergency situations to ensure that we can carry out our promise of supporting the children for a minimum of one year and enable the charity to continue as a going concern, but we do not have extensive resources, and we do rely on grants and donations. A monetary donation would significantly help us to train more volunteers to meet the growing demand for our services.We currently have 130 active volunteers in 70 Berkshire schools giving individual help to more than 500 children each year – enabling pupils to achieve success in education and consequently reducing the number of children leaving primary school unable to read to the expected level.
In our annual school evaluations survey for 2015-16 it was shown how ABC to read had a huge impact on the reading performance and self-confidence of the children we helped.
• 96% improved in their attitude to reading
• 95% improved in their reading performance
• 96% of the childrens’ general self-confidence and self-esteem increased
• 93% of the childrens’ comprehension in reading improved
These children have gained skills required for them to succeed at secondary school and beyond; improving their reading abilities and building their self-confidence dramatically enhances their employability in the future. The teachers in the schools that we support monitor the progress of the children we help over the school year and report their findings to us annually. This is in the form of an annual survey and teachers assess a range of factors, from reading improvement to the ability to concentrate and communication skills, as well as information such as gender, age, ethnic background and entitlement to free school meals. These statistics are collated into one document showing the results as percentages for all the pupils who have received help.
Our aim is to ensure that we support children who have literacy difficulties, whatever their background.
Our project will help the pupils’ teachers, classmates and schools. The children we work with are often amongst the struggling few that disrupt the learning of others. Funding will be used to recruit more volunteers to meet the demand.

Project Video

ABC to read (Assisting Berkshire Children)

Moment of Pride

Volunteers give up a lot of their time each week, supporting around 500 children each year. The organisation have won Queens Award, Investing in Volunteers Award and local governance awards.Our volunteers don’t just help these children discover the joys of reading, they are also there as a mentor

Location: Berkshire, UK