Reading is a core skill for all children. Its impact extends well beyond escaping into stories; it is a critical foundation for future life skills. Berkshire charity ABC to Read has been placing volunteers into local schools for over 15 years to work with children identified as struggling most with their reading. Their consistent investment in their volunteers has been recognised in the renewal of their Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard award.
Giving up time in service of others is a core pillar of thriving communities. Particularly in the current challenging times, the acknowledgement of this investment is not only an encouragement but a recognition of the crucial role that volunteering plays in our society.
ABC to Read was assessed against a range of best practice standards and proved to excel in all aspects of working with its volunteers. Like many grassroots charities, it has limited resources with only a handful of part-time paid staff. The only reason it can support the children in Berkshire struggling most with their reading is thanks to its 120 strong band of volunteers who train to become mentors.
Marcia Rowlinson, ABC to Read CEO, said:
We are thrilled to have renewed the achievement of this Quality Standard. It has been a lot of hard work but worth it, especially during these challenging times when the charity is working very hard to develop sustainable reading habits whilst our schools are closed. Now more than ever, our schools and children need to know that they will still be supported by us and we are looking to recruit many more volunteers to help us create reading for pleasure once schools are able to return.
Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for excellence in volunteer management. IiV aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience for all volunteers and for organisations to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by volunteers. IiV is managed by the UK Volunteering Forum and delivered by NCVO, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland and Wales Council for Voluntary Action. IiV’s nine good practice development areas cover all aspects of volunteer involvement, ensuring an excellent volunteer experience from interview to exit:
- Planning for volunteer involvement
- Recruiting and matching volunteers
- Recognising and rewarding volunteers
ABC to Read are still recruiting! There are spaces available for any new volunteers to take part in ABC to Read volunteer training. For more information about training days or joining the scheme as a school or volunteer mentor, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ABC to Read trains and supports volunteers in primary schools across Berkshire, helping hundreds of children each year to enjoy reading and gain an essential skill for life. The charity has maintained around 120 volunteers working with 500 children each year to improve their reading skills. The children are chosen by the schools as those in most need of reading support. The volunteers are selected by the charity and are DBS checked, trained and supported. ABC to Read are currently campaigning to increase awareness of their work in order to reach more Berkshire children. More information can be found at www.abctoread.org.uk
- ABC to read have set up live storytelling so that children can listen to their volunteers read stories whilst they are not in a position to support children on a one-to-one basis in schools – go to the ABC to Read YouTube channel.