Chelsea and Fulham MP, Greg Hands, is calling on local residents to get involved in an educational project which brings reading to disadvantaged children and families in the area. Greg met this week the organisers of the Doorstep Library Network (DLN), which endeavours to bring the joy of reading into the homes of low income families, through a team of volunteers visiting families on housing estates. DLN makes weekly visits into the homes of Hammersmith & Fulham's more disadvantaged families, where books are sometimes absent and reading for pleasure is not always done. They read stories with the children, lend books and befriend the families. This week Greg met with the DNL to learn about their recent progress and support their continued expansion.
The DLN originated in Hammersmith and Fulham, and works exclusively in the borough, at present, but is looking to expand, potentially into Kensington & Chelsea. Currently, they make visits to Fulham Court, Bayonne, Old Oak estates, and have recently expanded to include the Clem Attlee and White City estates. Children up to 11 years benefit from the programme and valuable relationships are fostered with their parents who sometimes feel isolated and overwhelmed. The charity’s work has been warmly welcomed by parents and children alike and last year it lent over 5,600 books and has over 75% of parents actively participate in the reading sessions.
Currently the DNL has 52 volunteers, about half of whom are Hammersmith and Fulham residents, and the others live in surrounding boroughs. At present they visit 300 children from 175 families across the projects, with an aim to double this over the next six months. However the biggest obstacle to further expansion is a lack of volunteers. The charity is looking for readers who can offer 2.5 hours of their time one day a week after school hours. All volunteers receive full training and support.
Greg said, “This is a fantastic initiative and I am very glad to be supporting it. I am very proud that it has started here in my constituency. The educational benefit this project brings to children is huge, as is the wider support it provides to their families. Volunteers also get a great deal out of the experience and form valuable and lasting relationships with other members of the community. I would encourage all those who are able to spend a couple of hours a week to share the gift of reading.”
If you would like to get involved, contact Katie Bareham, Project Manager - The Doorstep Library Network, on 020 8870 1476, or via firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information see www.doorsteplibrary.org.uk.