5th September: Costa Coffee stores across the UK are inviting customers to join them in their 2nd annual reading week, taking place from 11th – 17th September 2017. Parents, teachers and children are welcome to come down to the store and enjoy a range of literacy-themed activities on offer that aim to teach children about the environment, while also enjoying a complimentary Babyccino or fruit juice.

Reading Week is held in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, The Police Community Clubs of Great Britain, Keep Britain Tidy and Helping Hand Environmental. Taking place in over 500 stores nationwide, the initiative is designed to spark children’s interest in reading, aiming to tackle low literacy levels across the UK, an issue that is currently said to cost the UK economy £2.5 billion every year.

The 500+ participating stores have been handpicked based on new analysis from the National Literacy Trust and Experian which identifies the areas in England with the greatest vulnerability to literacy problems. Together, they have created a Literacy Vulnerability Score for every electoral ward and parliamentary constituency in England. This combines the charity’s understanding of the socioeconomic factors most closely associated with low literacy – such as education, income and unemployment – with Experian’s data expertise. The Literacy Vulnerability Score pinpoints the areas in England with the most acute literacy problems and where the greatest level of support is required.

The Litter Heroes booklet will be available to read in store and have been specially created for Costa Reading Week, featuring a new story from Barney & Echo about litter and responsibility in our communities. Environmental activity packs will also be available for children to complete, and have been designed to help stimulate young minds to begin to think about their environment and how sustainability can impact their personal choices. Costa team members will be on hand to act as reading hosts and encourage parents and carers to spend time sharing stories with their children. Helping Hand Environmental will also be running a Design Your Own Litter Picker competition where the winning entrant will have their design manufactured for them to keep.

“Reading Week is part of a wider initiative established to enable Costa’s team members to make a difference to their local communities,” said Sandy Gourlay, Charity and Community Manager, Costa Coffee,“building on our commitment to the literacy agenda, we are thrilled to be able to work with partners to welcome young people to our stores this week to enjoy a good book.”

Head of Partnerships at the National Literacy Trust, Lisa Rootes, added, “We have recently commissioned a report which reveals that 86% of all English constituencies have at least one ward with significant literacy problemsLacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life, having a significant impact on their career prospects and their chances of success. This lovely initiative looks to address literacy issues from the heart of the community, which is a fantastic place to take action.”

Costa employees will also donate approximately 30,000 ‘Barney and Echo’ books, provided by the Police Community Clubs of Great Britain, directly to their local schools. Ian Jackson, UK Project Director for Police Community Clubs, described the partnership: “Working with the team at Costa is incredibly rewarding. Their commitment to their communities coupled with their boundless energy and enthusiasm has been instrumental in creating Costa Reading Week. This week-long in-store activity will have benefits for children not only in educating them about their own environment, but will by allowing them the joy of spending quality time reading with a parent, teacher or guardian. I’m certain that this fun and worthwhile project will stay with them as a positive experience throughout their young lives.”

Keep Britain Tidy, a charity partner of Costa, plays a role in increasing the long-term impact of Reading Week, by encouraging participating stores to work towards a prestigious Eco-School qualification.

Lee Wray-Davies, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Britain Tidy, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting Costa’s Reading Week this year. If we are to prevent the littering and waste that blights our country and our planet, educating the next generation so that they do better than we have done is vital. The key messages and lessons delivered through Reading Week are very much in line with our Eco-Schools programme; using stories to show what can be done to tackle the issue of litter is a fantastic way to get the message across.”

Helping Hand Environmental will provide further valuable resources, from litter pickers to information booklets, to support schools in setting up their own litter clubs. Lindsay Richmond, Communities Partnerships Manager for Helping Hand Environmental, also commented: “Helping Hand are super proud to be involved in such a worthwhile project to engage young minds in a fun and interactive way, learning new literacy and environmental skills both in the classroom and at their local Costa store. We are delighted again to be working with Costa – a business totally committed to making our world a better place”

A participating Costa Coffee Store Manager said: “Many teachers and parents are our customers and we are excited to welcome them and their children in store next week, to encourage children to engage with our books and hopefully demonstrate how just a few minutes a day spent reading can be hugely beneficial to a child’s development.”

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