03 August 2017
Norfolk residents who find reading difficult are invited to join a free library project to help up to 750 people become better and more confident readers.
Anyone aged eight and above can become a reader with the Norfolk Reading Pathway, which is run by the county council’s library and information service.
The Reading Pathway project uses the reading programme Yes We Can Read and those taking part are asked to spare 30 minutes twice a week. Learners get involved in a fun and engaging way with one to one tuition using a phonics-based programme which builds their confidence and self-esteem.
The project is running at all Norfolk libraries and aims to get people reading fluently within six months.
A successful pilot project has already seen one Norfolk mum learn to read and develop the confidence to help her own children with their homework.
Rosie* has been meeting weekly with a reading coach in Cromer since April and is already making good progress. She has been able to start helping her children with their homework. Their class teachers said she could see the difference Rosie’s progress was making to her children’s learning. The family are now all regular visitors to the library and enjoy choosing books to read together.
Another Norfolk reader, Steven, has also benefited from the pilot scheme and is making good progress. He is enjoying being able to borrow books from his local library and continuing to improve his reading and vocabulary with the help of a volunteer mentor.
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “Being able to read opens up opportunities in life and is a valuable skill. Sometimes people feel embarrassed if they struggle with reading, but they shouldn’t. This project is aimed at reducing the stigma and learning to read in a fun and friendly way with the support of mentors.”
Head of Norfolk County Council's library and information service Jan Holden said: "This scheme is a fantastic opportunity for our residents to improve their reading skills in an informal and friendly way. Being able to read is an invaluable skill and the project is open to readers of all ages."
Library staff also plan to take over a vacant shop in The Vancouver Centre, King's Lynn, at the end of this month to highlight the project. Linking with other agencies including Job Centre Plus, The Purfleet Trust and Freebridge Community Housing, the shop will promote the Norfolk Reading Pathway to shoppers. The shop will be used as a drop-in information centre on Tuesday 29 August.
The scheme, which received £98,000 of Arts Council funding earlier this year, has filled many of its 150 countywide volunteer vacancies. There are still opportunities for voluntary reading mentors in the Great Yarmouth area. No previous experience is necessary as full training is given.
For more details about becoming a reader or a volunteer contact your local library.
*Name changed to protect identity.