A reading volunteer who represents Jeremy Paxman is urging others to give up a small amount of time to help children to read.
Anita Land, of Mayfair, is currently the sole reading volunteer at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Maida Vale and she is hoping others will join in her in something she calls ‘an extremely rewarding experience for both the volunteer and the children’.
The 58-year-old has been reading to children at the school for just over two years now after getting involved with the Evening Standard’s literacy campaign in 2012, which is now called Beanstalk.
The TV and journalist's agent, said: “I read about it and I couldn’t believe that kids in London who didn’t necessarily have dyslexia couldn’t read. I’ve represented Jeremy Paxman for 26 years and was talking to him saying I wanted to do it but I didn’t have the time. He said ‘go on, apply! You could definitely do it, and I’ll be your reference’.
“The campaign was inundated with people wanting to apply so I wasn’t sure if I’d get through but I got an interview pretty quickly and was offered a couple of places near me but I chose St Joseph’s and I’m so glad I did because I feel very much part of the fabric of the school. I’m very lucky with the school, it’s high achieving, the teachers are amazing and the kids are great fun but you’ll always get a few kids who struggle with reading more than others so it’s important to have that one-on-on time.
“I spend a couple of hours twice a week reading to a small group of children and it’s so rewarding seeing them get better and gain confidence in every aspect of their lives, because if you struggle to read it can be embarrassing but that’s what I’m there for. I don’t mind what they read as long as it gets them reading. We sometimes play Boggle or do crosswords and the children can always choose what they read. The programme provides books but I sometimes buy my own on Amazon so there are more, but there’s no pressure to do that.
“The school is great but they are struggling with just having one reading volunteer, I would urge anybody to help out, it’s so rewarding and truly helps these kids out. A retired person would be a great volunteer as they have the time, or somebody who’s self-employed like myself.”
Get in contact with Beanstalk by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0207 730 8259