Encourage a love of reading with Doorstep Library

Each month we highlight a charity that is helping to make our neighbourhoods better. This time we talk to Doorstep Library, who bring the joy of reading to disadvantaged children right in their own homes. Beginning with projects in Hammersmith and Fulham and then in Westminster, the charity is now expanding across London. We asked them about their work supporting both kids and their parents, and why it’s important to foster a love of books.

Tell us about Doorstep Library.

Our volunteers bring the magic of reading directly into the homes of families living in disadvantaged areas. Armed with a backpack full of books and two little stools, Doorstep Library volunteers visit the same five families every week to share their love of reading with primary school–aged children.

Doorstep Library volunteers don’t just read stories, though. They do the silly voices, hand-pick the books and give special recommendations. By making it fun first, we inspire children to experience the joy of stories and books, and transform them into budding readers.

By really getting to know the families, week after week, we empower parents to get stuck into the sessions too and encourage them to get involved in their children’s education. Sometimes though, we’re just there to give a bit of extra support, whether we’re passing on info about a family activity, lending an ear or even just being a friendly face. Then, before we go, we leave behind a selection of books for each child to borrow for the week.

Why is the work of Doorstep Library needed?

In the UK, how well you read has a direct bearing on how well you do in life. For various reasons, children from the poorest families are less likely to have books, less likely to read with their parents and less likely to read for pleasure. Not only are they more likely to fall behind in their studies as a result, they fall behind in their lives.

What are your funding sources?

Our work is funded by a variety of trusts and foundations, but we are looking to diversify our income by setting up our first Individual Giving scheme this year, which MotherHood readers can get involved in. By signing up to the scheme, you can support a child to receive a year of Doorstep Library visits or fund a box of brand new books to get one of our new projects going. You can sign up by going straight here.

What are any obstacles your organisation faces?

After honing our model in Hammersmith and Fulham for several years, we are now expanding our project across London. We’ve set up three projects in Westminster over the past 12 months and will be setting up new projects in Shepherd’s Bush, Edgware Road and Tulse Hill in January. The only obstacle we face, as a purely volunteer-led service, is ensuring that we have enough volunteers to get the projects off the ground. We need to recruit 12 new volunteers to do this.

Doorstep Library

How can people get involved?

Do you remember a character from a childhood book as fondly as an old friend? If you do, you’ll know the magic of being able to slip into another world as and when you need to, or how books can make your world a bigger, brighter place. The best way you can get involved with Doorstep Library is to share your love of books with children who often see reading as nothing but a chore.

Our projects run on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 3:45 to 6:30pm in Hammersmith and Fulham and 4:30 to 7pm in Westminster. Times for Tulse Hill will be confirmed shortly. We need our regular readers to make a weekly commitment, but if this isn’t feasible for you then joining our pool of stand-in volunteers is another great way of getting involved. They stand in for our regular volunteers when they can’t make it along to a session and are essential to the weekly running of our project. We have children waiting for us at the door who we can’t disappoint!

We have information sessions for prospective volunteers coming up on Monday 4th December (from 11am to 12:30pm), Tuesday 5th December (6 to 7:30pm) and Monday 8th January (6 to 7:30pm) here at our office in Victoria, which is a great opportunity to come and find out more. Simply email enquiries@doorsteplibrary.org.uk to book your place or to join our mailing list.

For more on Doorstep Library, visit their website.

The MotherHood
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