Call for extra volunteers and learners as Reading Pathway celebrates success for hundreds of Norfolk residents

08 February 2018

More than 600 people across Norfolk are gaining vital reading skills since the launch of a £98,000 project by the county council’s libraries service.

Places for both learners and volunteers are still available for the Norfolk Reading Pathway scheme which is available through the county’s 47 libraries.

he free project is open to anyone over the age of eight and matches volunteers with people needing help to learn to read. It uses a phonics-based workbook and by taking part in a one-hour long weekly session, the aim is to get people reading fluently within six months.

The Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, said:  “Since this reading support project launched last Spring, there have been 648 people taking part. 570 of these have been from Norfolk schools and other people have got involved directly through their local library or via Job Centres.  This scheme is making a real difference to people’s lives and opening up so many opportunities.  It has provided parents with the tools to help their children and improved their lives by making everyday things that many people take for granted, such as reading a newspaper or understanding letters, possible.”

The project is currently seeking at least 50 more volunteers to help meet demand.  Among the volunteer vacancies are: 15 in Downham Market, 15 in King's Lynn, 12 in Thetford, 10 in Diss and five in Swaffham. Coaches are also needed in Great Yarmouth.

Volunteers work with either children in local schools or with adult learners in Norfolk libraries.  No previous coaching experience is required and all volunteers undergo DBS checking.

There are learner places still available across the county.

For more information about becoming a volunteer or a learner, visit your local library or email nrp@norfolk.gov.uk 

The project was launched thanks to £98,000 from Arts Council England.  The funding was given by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund, which saw £3.9m handed out to 30 library services across the UK.

Case studies from learners

Names have been changed to protect identities

One grandmother, Amanda,  was recommended to the scheme by her local JobCentre.  She regularly looked after her grandchildren but couldn't read or write.  "I had no confidence and suffered with anxiety, but the Reading Pathway project at Aylsham library has really helped. I enjoyed it but also I discovered that I was dyslexic and that reading was easier on a yellow background."

She is currently working on the dyslexic workbook with her reading coach and says her life has changed thanks to the project.  She is now also able to follow what her young grandson is reading to her.

Another learner, Isabel, has English as her second language and struggled with her reading as well as feeling socially isolated.  She joined the Reading Pathway project at Sprowston library.  "Not being able to read really affected my confidence every day.  I couldn't help my children with their homework or read to them but now I really look forward to my weekly reading sessions which have given me confidence in reading."

Norfolk County Council's Library and Information Service has 47 libraries and eight mobile libraries. It is free to join the service and borrow books. Items can be returned to any county library.

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