The Middlesbrough Reads campaign from the National Literacy Trust is looking for dedicated members of the community to become Literacy Champions and support the literacy skills of the people around you.

Literacy Champions are volunteers who want to make a difference in their local area by delivering a variety of literacy-focused events and activities. The project aims to tackle Middlesbrough’s literacy challenges at a community level by empowering local people to improve the literacy of those around them.

Middlesbrough Reads is looking to recruit a team of Literacy Champions who will receive training and resources to lead and deliver projects in the town. These could be reading groups, literacy-based outings, or competitions. Each will inspire their peers to read, write, talk, and improve literacy outcomes for local children and families.

National Literacy Trust and Experian research shows that Middlesbrough is the most vulnerable constituency in England to serious literacy problems. Educational attainment data from 2018 shows that only 65% of five-year-olds in Middlesbrough met the expected reading and writing skills by the time they started school compared to a national average of 73% in England. Just 41% of 16-year-olds in Middlesbrough achieved good grades[1] in both English language and Mathematics GCSEs in comparison to 64% nationally.

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, known locally as Middlesbrough Reads, has been working for more than five years to improve the literacy outcomes of children and families in the town through schools, bespoke programmes and community-focused activities. The campaign also supports the work of Middlesbrough Council’s Middlesbrough Promise initiative, which is a partnership of education, health, literacy and community professionals aiming to improve the life chances of young people in Middlesbrough through reading.

The Literacy Champions project has already proved successful in several National Literacy Trust Hubs across the country; including Bradford, Nottingham, Hastings and the North Yorkshire Coast. The Bradford Stories campaign has recruited more than 50 volunteers in the last two years, from secondary school pupils who help younger children to read and a dads’ group from a local cricket club, reaching more than 750 children.

Middlesbrough Reads Manager, Allison Potter, said:

“We know that the people of Middlesbrough are dedicated, proud and will do anything to improve the lives of their town’s next generation. That’s why we’re calling on them to support their community and encourage people to share stories together. Anyone can be a Literacy Champion – whether you’re a parent, business professional, teacher, student, sports coach or just passionate about making a difference in your local area. We want to hear from you!”

If you are interested in becoming a Literacy Champion or learning more about Middlesbrough Reads, please visit middlesbroughreads.org.uk or email Allison on allison_potter@middlesbrough.gov.uk.

[1] A good grade is defined as level 4-9.