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The most rewarding hour

In our volunteer support programme with Ablaze, we see the big impact that a good story can have in making a difference to a child’s education.

Speed recently attended the annual Ablaze Poetry Competition prize giving ceremony. The event brought together Ablaze readers, charity partners, Miles Chambers (Bristol’s First Poet Laureate) and the mayor to celebrate the imagination and creativity of all of the competitions’ entrants, announce the well-deserved winners and launch the annual ‘A celebration of Reading in Bristol’s Primary Schools’ book.

Ablaze Winners with Lord Mayor and Miles Chambers

As a Bristol-based charity, Ablaze supports thousands of young people across the South West, with its programmes which aim to help with literacy and numeracy and as our charity partner, Speed is involved with a local primary school through its reading scheme.

This means that as a member of the Ablaze Speed Read team, I spend an hour every other week reading with primary school children and it has quickly become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of my job.

Thinking back now, an hour a week seems so little to contribute to a charity that aims to change the lives of so many young people. But after spending the last few months with my Reading Buddies, the progress that we’ve been able to see in the children is amazing. The school and teachers have been really supportive and appreciative – giving us tips to help the children develop their comprehension skills and feedback that our time is really helping drive forward the children’s abilities and develop their confidence in reading out loud.

Knowing that I’ve played a part in helping a student become a talkative and excited reader that bounds out of the classroom each week to see which member of the Speed Read team they have that week is both exciting and rewarding. And getting to spend an hour a week revisiting some of my favourite childhood books is a fun break!

It’s also encouraging to see how our sessions bring out the imagination and creativity of our reading buddies, giving them the confidence to enter the Poetry Competition and stand in front of an audience of their friends, teachers and reading buddies to share their work.

Volunteering with Ablaze really makes you appreciate the impact that a good story can have, and how a small part of your week can make a significant difference to a child’s education. There will be more updates from the Speed Read team as we head towards the end of the school year but for now, find out more about Ablaze and the winners of the poetry competition here: https://ablazebristol.org/

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