We are launching a brand new initiative September 2021

This latest scheme will be offered to year seven pupils at Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe when they start at the high school. The mentors will work with their mentee until they are confident, able readers. We believe that the lives of dozens of young people could be transformed by having a reading mentor backed by Wythenshawe businesses.

We are reaching out to our 260 member businesses in the area to find employees who would like to volunteer, teaming-up with the Shannon Trust for the project, which it says can have a “marked effect” on a young person’s prospects.

St Paul’s will identify a cohort of students who struggle with reading and whose development would be significantly boosted with the help of a mentor.

Dozens of volunteers from Timpson Ltd, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, Manchester Airport Group, Wythenshawe Hospital, MCC Wythenshawe Neighbourhood Team, Award Marketing and Arc People Training have already signed up and were put through a training session, before being paired with a student when the schools return.

Anyone else wanting to get involved can be put through future training sessions.

St Paul’s literacy coordinator Jamie Sharrock said: “We recognise the importance of instilling a love of reading in every student, and we are really excited about this project.

“We like to remind students and staff of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives, and we want people to make reading a regular part of their routine, whether they’re reading independently or together with their classmates, parents, or friends. 

“Research consistently shows all pupils appear to benefit from reading mentoring programmes, and there is some evidence that pupils who are low-attaining and those with special educational needs make the biggest gains. We look forward to working alongside businesses in our local community to support our readers at St Paul’s.”

An estimated five million adults in England and Wales have reading or writing skills below that expected of the average 11-year-old, while £10 bn a year is lost to the economy because employees have difficulty with literacy and numeracy skills.

Poor reading skills are also associated with poverty, homelessness, crime, low self-esteem, isolation and depression and poor physical and mental health.

Adults who struggle to read are five times more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to experience long-term unemployment.

BW3 Committee Member Ann Walters said: “BW3 is committed to boosting the economic and social health of Wythenshawe, and a key part of that is understanding the issues of biggest need and developing programmes to tackle them.

“St Paul’s is our school of the year, and so there was no better partner for this project. The Shannon Trust’s track record speaks for itself and together, we know this scheme will make a real difference to the lives of those involved.

“There is still time to get involved, and so if you are interested please do not hesitate to get in touch.”

If you are interested in becoming a Reading Mentor or would like more information about other BW3 initiatives and ways of giving back to the local community please contact BW3 Coordinator Zara Rudkin – zara@bw3.org.uk