A little history
help2read was founded by London businessman Alex Moss, who was inspired by the Volunteer Reading Help (VRH) model that he had experienced when volunteering as a reading helper with the UK based charity. He realised that this simple yet highly effective reading programme could be particularly beneficial in developing countries where the capacity and affordability of trained teachers is so limited.
Alex had visited South Africa on numerous occasions with his wife Mai and, inspired by Nelson Mandela's vision of the Rainbow Nation, he decided to make a contribution.
help2read was formed as a fundraising organisation in the UK in early 2005 and, following a meeting with Dee Cawcutt, the inspirational school principal of Muizenburg Junior School, where Alex explained how the VRH model worked it was agreed that a pilot programme should be instigated at her school. At the start of the 2006 school year help2read was established in Cape Town, South Africa and the literacy model was put to the test.
Progress was remarkably swift. Originating from the single school pilot-project at Muizenburg Junior School with just three volunteers, help2read expanded to a further three schools with 10 volunteers, and then to 6 schools with 12 volunteers. The programme and progress of the children being helped was so succesful that schools began to call and request help2read volunteers to assist with the many struggling children that filled their already packed classrooms (some classes have more than 60 children).
Today, 686 help2read volunteers provide invaluable literacy support in 111 schools across South Africa.
We’ve changed the lives of over 6500 children so far and it’s safe to say that the model is well and truly proven. With this in mind, help2read’s future history will be made across other cities in South Africa (help2read Johannesburg opened in March 2011) and other countries in Africa and the developing world.
The idea of using trained adult volunteers to help primary school children with their reading originated in England in 1973, when Susan Belgrave MBE, a school governess, recognised that many children were missing out on an effective education due to problems with their confidence and reading. Her response was to found the UK charity Volunteer Reading Help. Susan has recently become a patron of help2read. Sir Jim Rose, patron of Volunteer Reading Help endorses the effectiveness of the model in his curriculum review report - READ MORE
What drives us
Our vision is that all primary school children are literate and enjoy reading.
Our mission is to motivate the literate adult population to pass on their skills to the next generation, helping children to learn to love books and become confident readers.
help2read’s model is simple and effective. Working in developing countries, we recruit, train and support literate adult volunteers from local communities to help disadvantaged primary school children who struggle to read.
help2read’s volunteer reading helpers work on a one-to-one basis with each child. Their reading sessions last half an hour and and are entirely child-led. Very quickly, the children start to enjoy themselves and look forward to reading instead of dreading it. Reading helpers and children sit in a quiet place outside the classroom and read together on a weekly basis. The reading helpers make reading fun, so sometimes they’ll play a game too. This helps build rapport between the pair and allows the child to develop in confidence and self-esteem. help2read provides the schools and reading helpers with a box full of interesting and fun books. Children soon find a book that excites them and quickly learn to love reading. Individual children are helped for up to a year.