This year, we have partnered with literacy charity Chapter One to help children develop fundamental reading skills through an online reading volunteer platform. The initiative partners employee volunteers with children who need extra support to inspire a love for reading. Many of these children might otherwise slip through the cracks because of their background or already over-stretched school resources.
Since October, ten members of the Datagraphic team have committed to reading with a pupil each week via the secure online platform during the academic year. The sessions last 30 minutes and are designed to suit the child’s reading levels. Volunteers can work with their assigned child to set challenges using flashcards, word games and online reading books.
Read on to find out more about the Chapter One project and how it contributes to Datagraphic’s Environmental and Social Governance goals.
Why is volunteering important to Datagraphic?
As an organisation, being a responsible business is at the heart of our strategy. That’s why we fully encourage and support employee volunteering as a key element in our social impact strategy. Volunteering is important because we can make a difference in our community and support our team with causes close to their hearts.
Moreover, as signatories of the UN Global Compact, we have committed to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our strategy isn’t simply greenwashing; we want to participate in ESG opportunities that have a real impact. Chapter One supports SDG4, Quality Education, by providing additional reading practice for struggling young readers in areas of deprivation. Quality Education also underpins many of the other SDGs including No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth and Reduced Inequalities.
Through Chapter One, employees can:
- Volunteer online directly from their desks with no travel
- Make a direct impact on the lives of disadvantaged children
- Support local communities across the UK
- Improve their own well-being by helping others
- Develop their own interpersonal skills
- Reconnect with Datagraphic’s social purpose
“Contributing to a community is more than an act. It’s a commitment to creating a kinder, more compassionate world.”
Peter Wells, Head of Sustainability
So, how does Chapter One really help children?
According to research:
- 38% of 11 year-olds in England from disadvantaged backgrounds leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard (DfE, 2022).
- 43% of English adults can’t read well enough to understand basic health information (NHS).
- 1 in 5 children aged 5-8 don’t own a single book (National Literacy Trust, 2022).
By being involved with the Chapter One reading project, we support a community in an area of deprivation. Our partnered primary school has over 23% of children on free school meals and a high proportion of children with English as an additional language.
Sadly, not all children have books at home or parents/carers that read with them, which is where our team of volunteers comes in. Collectively, we are helping a group of 5-7-year-olds enjoy and gain confidence with reading, but also read for pleasure, which is proven to be important in a child’s development.
In addition to the educational benefits to the children, reading sessions help to develop a special bond between the volunteer and the student. All staff are DBS checked to ensure the highest levels of safety. However, the children do often share snippets about what they’ve had for lunch, their favourite subjects and even pets (some imaginary).
“I love the 30 minutes a week volunteer reading. The child I support brings so much enthusiasm to our weekly sessions that it’s infectious!”
Suzanne Beech, Marketing Director
Online volunteering benefits employees
We recognise that as well as helping to improve the lives of the children we help, considering what is important to our team plays an important role in their wellbeing. Our volunteers said their sessions remind them to empathise with others and be more aware of initiatives that add social value to our planet, people, communities or partners.
“Meeting the same time slot weekly is difficult in a demanding job role that’s always changing, but I appreciate the importance of consistency for the child, so I prioritise that time over everything else.”
Ieva, Key Account Manager
Naturally, our management team already pays close attention to workplace stress to meet client deadlines and, therefore, how volunteering might impact workloads. That’s why we’re so proud of our team for scheduling 30 minutes per week to work with a partnered child as part of the business day. Many Chapter One volunteers actually report an increased ‘feel-good factor’, a renewed focus and more energy when they return to their task lists.
“After my call, I received a message from my child’s teacher to say, “She is progressing really well in reading, and your sessions are having a great impact on her confidence and skills.” I can’t tell you how great that is to hear, and really sets you up for a positive day ahead.”
Lindsay Kirk, Implementation Consultant
Datagraphic is proud to support such a worthwhile cause as part of our social impact strategy. We fully endorse Chapter One as a positive way to make a difference in the community and bring value to the children and employees involved. If you’d like to join, contact Chapter One.