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A case study of a child helped by one of our reading helpers. Names have been changed to protect identity.

Cassie’s story

57% of the children we’re working with this year have been chosen by their teacher because they suspect a lack of reading support at home. Cassie is one of those children.

She lives in Leeds with her Mum and five siblings. They are housed by the local council and currently share three bedrooms between all seven of them. The older siblings use the lounge as a bedroom, which leaves no space for the family to spend time together. This impacts on Cassie, as there is little chance to interact with her family, let alone read with them.

Cassie only reads at school. Her teachers quickly noticed that she was behind her class mates and needed some extra help to catch up. Cassie, and many children like her, need someone to provide the one-to-one support they lack at home.

VRH paired Cassie up with Stevie. He is a self-employed musician and was able to commit to visiting Cassie and two other children at her school twice a week. Stevie and Cassie do lots of reading, but they also play games, chat and have fun in every session. Initially, Cassie needed to build her confidence, as she had become shy and disengaged because she was aware of her limited progress compared to her peers.

Cassie and Stevie have worked together for over a year. This regular help from a trusted adult is helping Cassie find her confidence again. Not least because Stevie allows her to do this at her own pace.

In an ideal world, Cassie would get this support at home. However, busy households, chaotic living conditions, limited budgets and, in some cases, parents who are not confident readers themselves, leads to little or no time for reading in family life. One in five children last year failed to reach the expected literacy level when they left primary school at age 11. We aim to reach these children, just as we have Cassie, and make sure their futures are not hampered by poor literacy skills and low self-esteem.