Calling Whitby, Scarborough and Filey - literacy champions needed

The literacy launch has worked well in other areas - now it is coming to the Yorkshire coast.
The literacy launch has worked well in other areas - now it is coming to the Yorkshire coast.

As part of the Our Stories campaign, the National Literacy Trust is looking for residents of Whitby, Scarborough and Filey to become Literacy Champions in their local communities.

Literacy Champions are local volunteers who want to make a difference in their area.

The initiative aims to tackle the North Yorkshire Coast’s literacy issues at a community level, by empowering local people to improve the literacy of those around them.

National Literacy Trust and Experian analysis of every parliamentary constituency in England found that 10 wards in Scarborough and Whitby are among those across the country with the highest literacy need.

The analysis is based on the social factors most closely associated with low literacy, including income, education and unemployment.

Educational attainment data shows that in 2017, over half of disadvantaged children (50.8%) on the North Yorkshire Coast did not achieve a good level of development at age five, compared to 30% of their more advantaged peers.

In the same year, 38.4% of children did not achieve the expected reading level at the end of primary school, compared to just 28% of children nationally.

Our Stories, which is delivered by the National Literacy Trust and supported by the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, aims to raise literacy levels in the city through a range of projects and activities to promote reading, writing and storytelling.

The Literacy Champions project aims to recruit 30 volunteers from a diverse mix of communities across the North Yorkshire Coast.

They will be given training and support to help them to create and deliver literacy activities in their local communities.

Projects could include setting up a reading group for adults or children, planning a literacy-based outing or competition, or helping families get involved with their local library or children’s centre.

The initiative is already getting underway in some places across the area.

In Scarborough, kickboxing coach Andy Desa is running storytelling sessions with two-year-old kickboxers, and has books available for older children and parents to read together while their siblings and children have their lessons.

He also plans to have posters promoting reading in his martial arts studio, and will share key messages encouraging reading on his popular Facebook pages.

The Literacy Champions initiative was piloted in the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford, where it has had a positive impact.

Liz Dyer, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub on the North Yorkshire Coast, said: “Local people know their community and the issues facing it better than anyone.

“We need your help to reach the people in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey who need help the most.

“Anyone can be a Literacy Champion - whether you’re a parent, business professional, teacher, student, sports coach or just passionate about making a difference in your local area. We want to hear from you!”

To find out more about becoming a Literacy Champion or to sign up to become one, visit literacytrust.org.uk/literacychampions or email liz.dyer@literacytrust.org.uk. The next training session will be on Friday December 7.