Celebrate the power of reading

More than 500 business volunteers join forces for Time to Read

Volunteers, schools and businesses gathered at Linenhall Library in Belfast on Friday 9 June to celebrate and recognise the success of Time to Read – a volunteering initiative developed by Business in the Community and supported by the Department of Education.

The programme aims to improve literacy, foster a love of reading, and build confidence and social skills of children at Key Stage 2 in local primary schools.

More than 50 volunteers were in attendance, most of whom have supported the programme for five years or more; and some for over 15 years. Local author and illustrator, Paul Howard inspired those attending with a sketch from one of his most famous books, ‘The Owl that was Afraid of the Dark’ and encouraged everyone to get reading!

“We are delighted to bring together volunteers, schools and businesses for this special thank you event. Business investment, of both time and money, brings huge benefits to the community, and especially in schools”, explains Claire Gordon, Director of Education & Jobs, Business in the Community.

“Positive and early literacy intervention has been identified as a real need. In fact, scientists have found that children who can read well by the age of seven are more intelligent in later years. Essential to the success is having age-appropriate books. As an organisation, we operate the Northern Ireland-wide Time to Read literacy project which is currently being delivered in more than 90 schools by over 60 companies, with more than 500 volunteers reading with Key Stage 2 pupils each week.”

Sarah Hannaway from KPMG adds: “At KPMG we can clearly see the benefits of the Time to Read programme. Reading is one of the most important things in life. By giving a small amount of time – just one hour a week – to be involved in Time to Read, we know it is paying huge dividends. The children are enthusiastic and always keen to come to their Time to Read session, but the business benefits are tangible too. Our staff feel good about giving something back to the community; it develops their confidence, increases self-esteem and communication skills, raises our company profile in the local community, and builds partnerships with local schools. Companies who aren’t yet involved are really missing out!”

If your business is interested in getting involved in Time to Read, please visit www.bitcni.org.uk/what-we-do/education-and-jobs/young-people-and-schools/time-to to find out more, or register your interest.