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 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. We specifically help children who are not entitled to individual help through statutory funding. Through our project we aim to help reduce deprivation, unemployment and poverty in parts of the Berkshire community by breaking down the barriers felt towards reading and education. We are the only organisation in the region to offer this service and provide continuing support to our volunteers through our training programme. We are always receiving new requests from local schools for volunteers and currently have 46 vacancies to fill.
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. We have expanded our presence across Berkshire and currently have 124 active volunteers in 80 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.