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Children in the care of family members other than parents will discover a love of reading thanks to West Lancashire Freemasons

Written by Lily Kehoe, 3rd October 2023

Children in kinship care - those living in the care of a relative or close family friend – will receive support from The Reader thanks to a grant from West Lancashire Freemasons.   

The £59,000 grant will support our Reading Heroes: Children in Kinship Care project which will pair children in kinship care aged between five and 15 years in Liverpool and Sefton, with a volunteer to read together, online or at home, every week for six to nine months.  

The Reading Heroes programme launched in 2016 and has impacted the lives of over 200 looked-after children in Liverpool City Region to date, inspiring their love of reading for pleasure. We're extremely ambitious in our plans to expand the reach of Reading Heroes, eventually replicating its success on a national level and impacting the lives of looked-after children and children in kinship care across the UK. 

The funding award will make a significant difference to the lives of 45 children in kinship care, improving their wellbeing, enhancing self-esteem, increasing confidence and ultimately inspiring a long-term love of reading for pleasure. 

Research shows that reading for pleasure is more important for children's cognitive development than other factors, including their parents' level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background1 

The project will also provide children in kinship care and their families with other benefits, including fun days, author visits and books by post, while watching their child read with a volunteer can enhance how carers go on to read with them themselves.  

There are around 180,000 children in kinship care in the UK, many of whom will have faced adverse childhood experiences. A 2021 survey by Kinship, the leading kinship care charity in England and Wales, found that 62 per cent of kinship carers believe that their children have long-term physical and mental health needs. 

The grant from West Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. 

Kara Orford, Head of Children & Young People at The Reader said: 

“We’re very grateful to West Lancashire Freemasons for their generous support. Children in the care of family members other than their parents are frequently overlooked in society and statutory support is only available to these families in exceptional circumstances. This grant will make sure these children will get the reading support they deserve and amplify The Reader’s mission to transform lives through reading aloud.” 

Mark Matthews from West Lancashire Freemasons, said: 

“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help The Reader with their hugely important project to help children in the care of family members other than their parents. There’s nothing that children learn that will bring them more benefit than reading and nothing that will bring them more pleasure throughout their lives.” 

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