I’ve had two wonderful opportunities to promote my favourite charity, Volunteer Reading Help, this month.
On Thursday 1 July, I was a guest at the VRH Reception at the House of Commons. I was speaking on ‘Giving the Gift of Reading’.
It was an honour to be able to speak in support of such an amazing organisation as VRH. And the honour was doubled when I was invited to speak on the following Monday at the Birmingham offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers, where VRH Birmingham held its end-of-year event.
Meeting so many VRH Helpers on both days reminded me of the vital work these volunteers do on a weekly basis, across the country and throughout the school year.
I’ve been very lucky to teach and work in a lot of age ranges, and in a lot of different environments. I’ve taught Frankenstein to English undergraduates, Aimhigher weekend courses on film and fairytale, business workshops for Y10s, even Shakespeare in junior schools, but my time with Volunteer Reading Help remains unique.
VRH is an organisation which gives children an exciting and vital one-to-one learning environment which it can be hard for schools to provide. An organisation which gives its volunteers such great opportunities to learn and develop in their own right.
With up to thirty children in a primary class, there can be precious little time for schoolteachers to give the kind of nurturing one-to-one support that VRH does so well.
Schemes like Assessing Pupil Progress can leave you focused on ticking boxes and designing activities for children purely to showcase their skill-levels.
We have to keep track of how children are progressing, but we also have to find time for the fun and adventure that makes children confident and literate for life. That's exactly what VRH offers through its child-centred, one-to-one support.
The funny thing is, if you give a child the opportunity to discover the world of words, and fall in love with books and adventures, the skill-levels will go up of their own accord!
My time as a VRH helper was incredibly rewarding.
It was my sheer good luck that I got to work with an organisation that did so much for me, giving confidence, opening doors and creating opportunities.
It was a privilege to be doing the kind of work that teachers don’t always have the time to do in class.
And above all, it was a privilege to help a child make that journey from hating books to wanting to write their own, just by providing the most gentle support.
I went into volunteering hoping to support and inspire someone in some little way, and my time with VRH repaid me thousand times over.
Find out more about how you can support VRH, or get involved, here.
Coming very soon to Books and Adventures: our final VRH interview, with Director of Operations Julie Nixon...