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Rayne Foundation Funding Supports Reading Heroes Expansion

Written by Lily Kehoe, 13th March 2023

The Reader has secured funding from the Rayne Foundation to support the expansion of Reading Heroes beyond Liverpool and Sefton.  

Reading Heroes is an initiative that pairs volunteers with care-experienced children, to read in a one-to-one setting over a six-month period. Thanks to the Rayne Foundation, The Reader will receive a total of £35,000 across a two-year period, which will go towards helping the Children and Young People’s team move the Reading Heroes project from being grant-funded to a commissioned service. 

This transition will take time, as the team builds relationships with new networks and local authorities, and the money from the Rayne Foundation will directly support this, ultimately helping Reading Heroes reach more children. 

Reading Heroes was developed in 2016 as way for care-experienced children to have opportunities to explore reading aloud and develop a love of reading for pleasure. Reading Hero volunteers read on a one-to-one basis with children aged between 5 – 15 over a six-month period. In total, more than 200 children from across the Liverpool City Region have benefitted from the project.  

The project was originally funded by BBC Children in Need but when this funding came to an end, The Reader managed to secure further funding directly from two partner organisations; Virtual School Liverpool and Virtual School Sefton.  

Reading Heroes

Every local authority has a Virtual School which is a statutory service to support children in care. The head teachers from Liverpool and Sefton were so impressed by what Reading Heroes offered, that when funding ended, they commissioned the service from their own budgets.  

Now, The Reader hopes to develop more relationships through the Virtual Schools network, expanding the project nationwide and reaching more children.  

Kate Dalton, Early Years and Primary Co-ordinator at Virtual Schools Liverpool said: “Reading Heroes has been a phenomenal project for Liverpool’s Looked After Children. The feedback from the children and their families has been incredibly positive about all aspects of the programme. Schools have commented on the impact the project has had on children’s engagement in reading and their confidence when discussing stories, characters and their reflections on how themes are similar to their own lives. Although the project has successfully nurtured a love of reading with our young people, the positive influence it has had on their attainment and general confidence and self-esteem has been wonderful.  

“The Reader has fully facilitated the programme, has communicated well with the Virtual School and families, and is always willing to go above and beyond to support our children and young people. The quality of the volunteers they have trained are second to none and have a wealth of knowledge and experience which they share in abundance. Our children have benefitted greatly from the project and we hope to remain close partners with the hardworking and inspirational staff at The Reader in the future.” 

Kara Orford, Head of The Reader’s Children and Young People’s Team added: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to the Rayne Foundation for this funding. We have big ambitions for Reading Heroes and the trustees at Rayne Foundation can see its potential and impact. They believe, just as we do, that we have the potential to reach many more children and young people. This is really validating and their feedback has been incredibly positive.” 

Find out more about the Rayne Foundation 

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