Coram Beanstalk welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall
Published: Wednesday 13th February 2019
Children from local schools and pre-schools across Liverpool welcomed Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall to Liverpool Central Library on 12 February to mark two years of Story Starters – a reading programme delivered by national charity, Coram Beanstalk, which trains volunteers to work with children aged 3-5 and introduces them to the world of books and stories.
The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of Coram Beanstalk since 2013 and continues to passionately support children’s literacy projects. During the visit Her Royal Highness met with some of the very first Story Starter volunteers and the children supported by them.
Story Starters first launched in Merseyside in April 2017 as a two-year collaborative project between Coram Beanstalk, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and LuCid (University of Liverpool) and was made possible by players of The People’s Postcode Lottery. The People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund chose Story Starters to receive £1million in funding in January 2017. As part of the collaboration, Coram Beanstalk has recruited, trained and placed volunteers in early years settings, while Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has provided every Story Starter child and volunteer with high-quality, professionally-selected, age-appropriate books every month.
LuCiD (www.lucid.ac.uk) - a project based at the University of Liverpool to help transform our understanding of how children learn through language and communication – will now be looking at the findings of the two-year period to report on the impact of the project.
Ginny Lunn, Managing Director of Coram Beanstalk said:
We have been delighted to welcome our patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall to Liverpool, and to talk to her about Story Starters, our collaborative programme with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and LuCiD and to illustrate the progress made so far. Sharing the magic of books with children in their early years is so vitally important to give them the foundations they need to start school ready to learn.
Unfortunately, many children do not get the opportunity to share books with an adult regularly at home, for a number of different reasons, and it’s so important that these children do not start school at a disadvantage because of this. This collaborative approach to the Story Starters project has meant we have been able to bring together quality reading support, engaging books and meaningful research which will transform the life chances for so many children supported through the programme and others in the future. Her Royal Highness has been such a great advocate for children’s literacy and its fantastic to have her support as we reach this two-year milestone and look to reach even more children going forwards.
Story Starters was developed to support children aged three to five to help with early language development and reading skills. According to statistics from the Department for Education (DfE) released last year 28 per cent of four and five-year-olds lacked the early communication skills expected by the end of reception year. However, research shows that children who benefit from high-quality support in their early years start school on average three months ahead in their literacy and language skills, compared with children who don’t.
Since its launch in 2017, Story Starters has been rolled out nationally by Coram Beanstalk with over 400 Story Starter volunteers currently active across almost 200 early years settings in the UK, and more volunteers ready to be trained and placed by Coram Beanstalk in new settings. This means the programme will have reached 1,800 children by the end of the two-year period, all of whom have benefitted from caring one-to-one support helping develop and enrich the language and reading skills these children need to start school ready to learn.
Coram Beanstalk will continue to deliver the Story Starters programmes and needs more volunteers to join its network of reading helpers across the UK. To find out how to apply please visit storystarters.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.