Fundraising for New Reader Leaders

The Reading Revolution is currently fundraising to run a training course for a new batch of volunteers so that we can expand the number of groups offered into new settings. We support our volunteers by encouraging them to work within their own communities or within sectors that they have a passion to serve. Leading shared reading groups offers volunteers a path into community service that breaks down traditional boundaries between the beneficiary and the recipient of a charitable act in a casual kiwi way. This is particularly important when working within an institutional setting where group participants really value the simple freedom that you, like them, are choosing to be present and participate in the group, for no material gain.

This is different to the model that The Reader Organisation uses in the UK where they have funds to pay professionals  as Readers in Residence but we believe a volunteer based organisation is more appropriate (and achievable) for New Zealand. We are fundraising to pay for our volunteer’s training costs in appreciation and anticipation of their work. (900 pounds sterling is TROs international fee per participant) This means we will need approximately NZ$1800 per participant plus flights and accommodation for the trainers and catering for the three days. Selwyn Village have generously offered us a space in which to hold the event. We are aiming to fundraise NZ$25,000 to cover this.

Maintaining our connection with the Reader Organisation (TRO) is essential to ensure the quality of the programme that we offer. This is why we are fundraising to bring the training course here from the UK. This connection also allows us access to their incredible body of research on the benefits of shared reading when we are applying to work within new settings. This research is what directly gained us access to both Selwyn Village and the Women’s prison. Providing volunteers with the TRO training means we can assure our venue hosts that we are providing the same programme as TRO. Hosts can then confidently expect the same benefits for participants as described in the research.

A few weeks ago we had a guest at a group who works within the charities sector. She participated in the group and enjoyed her experience. After the group she spoke about how she loves reading novels and feels that recreational reading has fallen out of common practice. She then asked me who the groups were for. I said that shared reading is for anyone, that is part of what I love about the programme, that we can all come with diverse interests and needs and draw what we require from the same group. She was bemused because she assumed it was for disadvantaged people. This was interesting to me since she had just participated merrily in a group herself, and I doubt she would identify as a disadvantaged person. Volunteering to be a Reader Leader (as we have been recently dubbed by the Reader Organisation) is a unique opportunity in my experience because as a volunteer you also experience the benefits of participation in the groups that you lead. At a public library group last Friday we read a story called the First Shampoo Hair Show by Nii Ayikwei Parkes and I was intrigued by the emotion that emerged from the story when read aloud that I had not felt when I read it silently to myself earlier. As a volunteer your own reading is immeasurable enriched by repeated readings of the same text, in different settings. Those of us who read recreationally may read fast and miss subtleties of language and emotion that are evoked within the live experience of reading aloud. Hearing other voices characterize the words literally gives them life.

Hopefully after reading all of this you feel inspired to either volunteer as a Reader Leader, participate in a shared reading group or support our upcoming fundraising activities!

Happy Reading : )

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