Supporting the younger generation

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


With this funding we would like to recruit, train and support 10 new ARCh volunteers who would support at least 30 needy children each year.
ARCh is an Oxfordshire charity with the aim of imparting a love of reading to disadvantaged children throughout the county in order to enhance their life chances. We do this via a network of trained volunteers who provide personalised support to primary school children. Children are selected by their school for a variety of reasons; they probably will not see themselves as readers, may have lower ability, may lack confidence, have no books or support at home; some may have English as an additional language. They may have low aspirations and be living in deprived circumstances and it is our aim to break this deprivation cycle.
After successfully completing our application and checking process and training course, each volunteer is assigned to a primary school near their home or place of work. They visit the school twice a week for an hour and a half at a time during the school day and the school selects 3 children for each volunteer to work with. Each child benefits from 2 half hour sessions 1:1 with their helper each week. The charity provides books and games to use in the sessions and these are personalised to the children to encourage them to enjoy reading. Sessions involve chatting, sharing reading and playing a game. Other activities can be included eg drawing, writing etc. Volunteers get to know their children as individuals; they discover subjects of interest and we provide them with resources which reflect this in order to hook them into enjoying reading. We use a variety of different reading materials - fiction, non-fiction, poetry, puzzle books, plays, jokes etc. Sessions are always fun for children and volunteers alike; we call it a happy half hour. Volunteers include lots of praise, something which may be missing in these children's lives.
The commitment is a long term one as volunteers continue to work with the same 3 children for the entire year so as to build a supportive mentoring relationship and boost confidence. We do therefore ask volunteers to commit to work with ARCh for at least a year.
What we do is very simple and it works! The charity began in 2008 and doubled in volunteer numbers within 5 years. There are now 250 active volunteers helping almost 800 children each year. The charity has won many awards and this year was honoured with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
More volunteers are required as there is a high level of need, particularly in certain areas of the county. In Oxford city 40% of children living in disadvantaged circumstances (eligible for free school meals) leave primary school with a below standard level of reading, This impacts on their life in secondary school, in their attitude to school and learning and in their overall life chances. And of course this results in a problem for the community as a whole.
With a year of ARCh support we find that not only does children's reading ability and interest improve but their confidence soars and they consequently see themselves as readers and learners and on the road to a successful life.
On average it costs the charity £768 to recruit, train, resource and support one volunteer for a year. A grant of £7680 would fund 10 new recruits who would work with at least 30 children. This breaks down to a mere £256 per child, a very small price to pay for a life changing experience for these children.

Project Video

ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children)

Moment of Pride

ARCh provides a life changing experience for the children supported but also for the volunteers themselves. Bonding with and seeing progress in a child in terms of education and confidence is so very rewarding; volunteers are surprised how much they gain from the experience themselves. It's win win!

Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom