Feeling a sense of community is pretty special, as anyone who’s run a marathon will know. You can start to get used to the support from the people you run with, and all the people cheering you on. On the day it feels like the finish line will never come, then all of a sudden it does and it’s all over. But just because the race is finished, doesn’t mean that the sense of community needs to be.

Running a marathon every day isn’t feasible, but you can keep the momentum going by using your determination to do something great all year round – which doesn’t involve early starts and sore knees!

On November 20 th people around the world will be celebrating National Children’s Day. This is a chance to think about what we can do to support the next generation. Bookmark, the literacy charity, offers volunteers the chance to have a long-lasting impact on the future of a child in their neighbourhood, by helping them learn to read.  Bookmark volunteers go into a local primary school for an hour a week, for six weeks, booking reading sessions with a 5-8 year old around their schedule through the Bookmark app.

Becoming a reading volunteer

When was the last time you had a chat with a child outside of your family? Children can not only be great fun but also have an honesty we tend to lose as we grow up, which makes them refreshing and entertaining company! In England eight children in an average class leave primary school unable to read well. By taking part in 30-minute sessions, you can offer crucial support to a child who is struggling with their reading whilst having loads of fun playing literacy games, helping an early reader expand their vocabulary, and getting them excited about books! Doing something worthwhile for your local community can also have a really positive impact on your own wellbeing. A report by the NCVO found that, across all age groups, volunteering has a positive impact on our mental health and can also reduce levels of anxiety whilst increasing our life satisfaction. The feeling may even rival that incredible runner’s high!

It takes a village…

The old proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, couldn’t be more true or important in today’s world. Supporting a local child to grow up happy and safe can have huge effects on your wider community, immediately and in the future. The National Literacy Trust found that children who are most engaged with literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing that their peers who are least engaged. Further studies show that literacy skills gained in school have huge influence on the rest of our lives. According to the EEF , young people who leave school without literacy skills are held back at every stage of life, effecting measures such as health, employment and finance. As a reading volunteer you can help a child become a confident adult, able to seize opportunities that would be unreachable without a good level of literacy. The one hour a week you spend with a child can also have a ripple effect by providing support to parents in your neighbourhood and allowing teachers more time to spend with the rest of the class.

Peer to Peer support

At Bookmark we work as a team with opportunities for volunteers to come together and share their interests in helping others. You can get involved and share tips at meet ups, games evenings and of course, book clubs! You may even make a new friend to go running with or cheer you on at the next race.

If you are interested in making a difference in your local area then join the Bookmark team today. You can book reading sessions flexibly through our app and work one-to-one with the same child throughout the 6-week programme. Get in touch at info@bookmarkreading.org or find out more and apply at our website: www.bookmarkreading.org