ABP volunteers sow seeds for a lifetime of learning

March 11, 2014

 Image: l-r ABP staff members Lindsay Blanchard, Phil Christy, Rachel Addison, Elaine Rowe, Paul Smith, Wendy Sheard, Richard Claridge and Col Clarke all volunteer through national literacy charity Beanstalk (image courtesy of ABP/David Lee Photography)

A dedicated group of staff from Associated British Ports (ABP) Humber have thrown their weight behind national literacy charity Beanstalk, by giving up time to help children in Grimsby and Immingham improve their reading skills.

The group of 12, who all work at the Ports of Grimsby and Immingham, have been allowed to give a few hours a week each to work with children in local schools who may be finding reading difficult and would benefit from one-to-one support.

Each of the volunteers has been trained by Beanstalk and provided with appropriate books and literacy materials. Ordinarily schools involved in the scheme are asked for a nominal donation to cover the charity’s costs, but ABP has covered these costs meaning the programme is free to the schools that use ABP staff.

Joining the scheme was the brainchild of ABP Director Humber John Fitzgerald, who approached the charity to offer his firm’s services last year. The company’s volunteering programme began in October 2013.

John said: “It’s vital that our staff are able to support the communities in which they live and work, and that we support them in their endeavours. To me there is nothing more important than ensuring every child can read, to allow them to have a chance to shape their own future. Beanstalk presented us with a fantastic way of achieving this and we were overwhelmed by the response when we asked for volunteers.

“We’ve started off with a small group but this will certainly grow when we move into the second year of the scheme. I know they’ve all enjoyed themselves and found volunteering extremely satisfying. I am so very proud of them all.”

Paul Smith, who has been a crane driver at the Port of Immingham for more than 20 years, volunteered to give something back to the local community.

Paul said: “For me to give up a few hours of my time each week to work with and support the children is very satisfying, especially when you see the progress they are making

“The support we have received from Beanstalk and ABP has been vital for us to develop the skills that help make this a fantastic experience for all of us.”

Jenny Morrell is head of Strand Primary Academy in Grimsby, which is involved in the volunteering programme.

She said: “At Strand Primary Academy we see reading as an essential tool for life. Not only does it allow children to access information and prepare for the world of work, it also allows them to experience other worlds, other times and delve into other people’s imagination.

“We are aware that children need to learn to read in a safe comfortable environment with regular opportunities to practice and be successful. The support provided by ABP through the Beanstalk Reading Scheme provides the selected children with these experiences.

“Because of the funding provided by ABP the volunteers have been trained by Beanstalk to a high standard to complement the learning in the academy. The volunteers are dedicated professionals who, due to the generosity of ABP ports, attend the academy one afternoon a week. We are thrilled with the success and progress the children are making in their reading.”

Beanstalk is currently in the process of expanding its services in the Grimsby area and is encouraging schools who feel they would benefit from the mentoring scheme, as well as potential volunteers, to get in touch.

If you are interested in getting involved with Beanstalk contact Clare Sandford, Area Manager, on 0845 4500 344 or visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk