Join the Pompey Pirates and help disadvantaged children with reading and writing

THE children’s literacy support group, the Pompey Pirates, is looking for shipmates to help disadvantaged children develop their reading skills.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 4:53 pm
Pompey Pirates Literacy Hub is looking for volunteers to help disadvantaged children.
Pompey Pirates Literacy Hub is looking for volunteers to help disadvantaged children.

The Pompey Pirates Literacy Hub will open in the Charles Dickens ward in September and will mimic a pirate ship - encouraging children to learn in a unique environment.

With the education gap having widened during lockdown additional support is needed more than ever before as the venture looks to ‘set sail’

The initiative is aimed at children between the ages of eight and 13 who have been referred by their school for additional support. Pupils attend the hub once per week after school with the sessions led by a trained teacher and supported by volunteers who work one-to-one with the children.

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Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton, has volunteered to become a Pompey Pirate. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Pompey Pirates founder, Becca Dean, said: ‘Forty four per cent of children in the Charles Dickens ward and nearly a quarter of all children in Portsmouth are living in poverty. Research shows there’s a direct link between those who have lower than average levels of reading and writing with those from areas of deprivation.

‘We want to support children as they transition from primary to secondary school.’

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However the success of the venture depends on a dedicated band of willing volunteers.

Becca added: ‘We wouldn’t be able to run the sessions without the support of our volunteers who are an integral and vital part of the project.’

One of those volunteers is Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton.

Cllr Horton said: ‘The project relies on volunteers and is a great opportunity to give something back to the city in which we live and work. I'll be joining other volunteers from a range of backgrounds and I hope many more people consider joining us and becoming a crewmate.

‘It’s so important in the wake of the pandemic to support children and young people from the most deprived areas of our city.’

One pirate looking to join the crew is dive master, Lee Butler, who spent nine years as a mentor for national sports charity, Sported.

Lee said: ‘Books have been a vital part of my life from a young age and I love to read. I’ve seen the positive impact mentoring can have first-hand and to extend my mentoring with the Pompey Pirates would be an exciting opportunity to help young people explore and utilise their imagination.

‘Allowing me to help young people achieve the gift of literacy is a privilege.’

Former teacher and fellow pirate, Helen Wright, who now works as an air traffic controller, said: ‘I’ve a lot of spare time on my hands, would like to give something back and would love to offer my skills in education and working with children.’

Pompey Pirates is run by The Literacy Hubs, an education charity working in partnership with Portsmouth City Council and The University of Portsmouth

Volunteers are asked to sign up for a minimum of one session per week and a minimum of 15 sessions across the year. Volunteers should have a good understanding of written English language and an enjoyment of reading and writing.

To register an interest in becoming a volunteer email [email protected]

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