“I’ve been a ‘Reading Buddy’ with Volunteering Matters since 2012 in my local primary school in Cardiff, but I first thought about doing this a couple of years earlier when I started a career break. At that time, I wasn’t sure that I had the right sort of experience to put myself forward – I don’t have children of my own. So I spent some time as a volunteer in a basic skills programme for adult learning, mainly offering one-to-one support with literacy classes.
In 2012 I began helping a community garden in its education work – mainly with groups of younger primary school children. The experience and enjoyment I gained from this prompted me to have another look at volunteering in schools.
At first I volunteered for half a day a week reading with year 6 children, whilst also taking on a more varied role in another school. I did take a while to feel it was working out – certainly not because the children were a problem, more that in a busy school environment you might not sense what contribution you’re really making. But the staff do notice and appreciate what you’re doing – so give it time!
I now volunteer for two days a week with Volunteering Matters project ‘Learn Together Cymru’ across years 3 to 6, usually with around 30 children per day in groups of up to 6 at a time. That broader experience helps me understand a child’s journey towards reading confidently. It’s great when there is time to discuss books in some depth and explore ideas and language.
If you’re not sure whether you’re the right person to be a reading volunteer, then think again. Some aspect of your life will contribute something to the school and I believe personality and an interest in education matters as much as personal circumstances. Once you give it a go, stay with it – you’ll get more confident and the rewards will come!”