Accessible volunteering is making it possible for more of us to feel the positive effects
Freya Laing writes about the work of the Bookmark Reading charity
The advantages of volunteering are well researched and now new technology has made it possible for even more people who live or work in London to feel the benefits. Bookmark is a new literacy charity that has developed an app to connect reading volunteers to local schools that need extra support. Helping a child learn to read can have a positive impact beyond the classroom, influencing your own life and your local community.
The benefits of volunteering
Protecting our wellbeing is a priority for many of us, whether we choose to eat healthily, exercise more or practise mindfulness. A report by the NCVO shows that volunteering also has a strong link to improved mental health. 90% of volunteers who took part in their study felt that they had made a difference, while many reported feeling less isolated and noticed an increase in confidence. In addition, The National Citizen Service found that volunteering helps to reduce anxiety and leads to an increased sense of life satisfaction.
These benefits needn’t be isolated to our free time, with more organisations embracing dedicated Employee Supported Volunteering (ESV) programmes. Accenture’s research into ESV found that 89% of those surveyed felt that taking part in volunteering programmes increased their job satisfaction, while also providing the opportunity to connect with their local community and develop new skills.
There are many key professional, as well as personal qualities that can be developed by working in schools specifically, which have been highlighted in the Lloyds Volunteer Skills Matrix. Inspiring and motivating another person can be excellent practice for leading a team, giving you the opportunity to develop communication, leadership and adaptability skills.
Inspire a child to read
Bookmark offers a flexible and enjoyable way to get involved with your community. Volunteers read with the same child for 6 weeks for 30-minute sessions, helping an early reader to develop their literacy skills, extend their vocabulary and find enjoyment in reading.
Supporting a child to read at this crucial time in their development can have a profound effect on their future. The OECD found that reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child and more important than their socio-economic background.
There are many children in our partner schools across West London who need extra support, with 8 children in every class leaving primary school each year unable to read well.
If you would like to help a local child develop a love of reading, then please get in touch.