Friday, 30 April 2010

Volunteer to help learning in Leeds

Have you ever considered helping children with their reading in your local primary school or becoming a mentor to a high school student? Perhaps you would be interested in getting involved in running one of our schools by becoming a governor? Do you have an interest in books and could spare some time to deliver library books to people who aren’t able to get out themselves?

2010 is the Leeds Year of Volunteering and the theme for the month of May is ‘volunteering for literacy and learning’, which will highlight opportunities for those who want to help people of all ages learn.

Come and find out more about some of the opportunities available at the Literacy and Learning Information Event on Wednesday, 5 May at Leeds Central Library, 12 noon to 7pm. Volunteers will be on hand to share their experiences and know-how, and tell you how you can get involved. There are also limited spaces on a free workshop run by Reading Matters, which helps people to support reading at home with school-age children. To book a place on this session, which runs from 12 noon to 2pm, please contact Lisa Robinson on 0113 273 7964 or email Places are on a first-come first-served basis.

We also have the Leeds Reading Pledge in May, which we are asking the people of Leeds to sign up too to help us celebrate books and reading. On Wednesday, 19 May we would like as many people as possible to volunteer to read for at least 15 minutes either with friends, work colleagues, family members or children. You can make your pledge via the Leeds Year of Volunteering website or at the event on 5 May.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member with responsibility for the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering said:
“There are many volunteering opportunities available across the city for people who want to support literacy and learning in our schools, libraries and in the wider community.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to come along to the event on 5 May where they can speak to some current volunteers to find out what’s involved and what the many benefits of volunteering are.”

Schools need people from their local community with energy, experience and a commitment to young people. Governing bodies are responsible for raising standards and making sure that children in the city get the best possible education in a safe and happy environment.

Jean Maskell, chair of governors at Allerton Bywater Primary School said:
"Being a governor has reminded me just how important young people are, and how we have a responsibility to help put them on the right road for life in the short time that we have them in school.

"It gives me lots of pleasure to have a role in helping to achieve this, and to support the headteacher and staff in school in making sure that the children are nurtured and have the best possible environment to learn in.

"I would encourage anyone with an interest in education, some spare time and plenty of enthusiasm to look into what they could offer to a Leeds’ school by becoming a governor. The rewards are really worth it."

No formal qualifications are needed to be a volunteer for the Library at Home Service. All that is required is an interest in books and reading, a bit of spare time, listening skills and a commitment to delivering a quality service to those who can no longer access their local library.

Helen Loughran, a volunteer for the Library at Home Service said:
"I've been taking books for just over a year now to an elderly lady who can't get to the library herself. I really enjoy choosing books that I think she will like and its no problem just picking a couple extra ones up whilst I'm at the library.

"When I take them round we have a chat about things like her family and what's happening in the garden. It’s really nice and its not a huge time commitment for me.

"I like to think that someone would do something like this for one of my elderly relatives if they needed a bit of help and company. It’s just a small thing to me but I hope it makes a difference to her life."


Additional info

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) is supporting the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering, in particular the activities for May which are focused on volunteering for literacy and learning.

The PwC Leeds office runs a successful reading programme in partnership with the charity Volunteer Reading Help, in which PwC employees read once a week with children from a local primary school to help children gain confidence and improve their literacy skills.

For more information about volunteering opportunities you can also call into Volunteer Centre Leeds, 12b St Paul's Street, Leeds LS1 2LE, telephone 0113 395 0405 – open Mondays to Thursdays 10am to 3pm. Alternatively visit our website

Organisations who have volunteering opportunities can get information on how to register via the website or by contacting Volunteer Centre Leeds.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578