Northern Gas Networks and HEY Children’s University take partnership on the road with new reading van

15th Nov

Hull and East Yorkshire (HEY) Children’s University and Northern Gas Networks have teamed up on a new project that aims to inspire a love of reading for children living in the care system.  

HEY Children’s University is a charity that aims to raise the aspirations, self-esteem and resilience of disadvantaged children. The charity works with more than 7,000 children a year, providing them with experiences and interventions that they otherwise would not have access to.

Northern Gas Networks has been one of the charity’s corporate partners for the past eight years and has been instrumental in helping the charity to grow and reach a greater number of children.

HEY Children’s University applied for Northern Gas Networks’ Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance funding, which is provided by Ofgem for all gas distribution networks.

Their proposal was to fund a reading camper van which would solve the problem of limited one-to-one reading space in some schools. HEY Children’s University delivers a reading intervention programme called the Letterbox Club in which children in care receive a monthly letterbox parcel filled with books.

The reading van was officially launched at at event at Bridlington Spa last Friday, November 12.

The HEY Children’s University letterbox tutors visit the children at their school and hold reading sessions with the children to help them to progress and develop a love of reading. The tutors work specifically with looked after children in year groups 3 to 7 and visit them on a weekly basis. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a quiet spot to sit and read inside school when there are many distractions, so the van (kitted out as a perfect “reading corner”) provides a space to do this. The children can even choose to read outside the van on one of the beanbags.

The van will also be used for HEY Children’s University to deliver carbon monoxide awareness sessions in school.

Natasha Barley, director of HEY Children’s University said: “We have such an amazing partnership with NGN. NGN identified that literacy and employability were key issues to address in Hull and the East Riding. The reading van will help us ensure that children in care are able to access their reading sessions.

“The sessions take place for up to three years and children finish the programme at expected reading age or above which in turn helps them to achieve academically and go on to gain qualifications and employment.

“It’s also very important for children to be educated about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the sessions delivered in schools across Hull and the East Riding will ensure that children are educated about this important issue. We’re very excited about this new initiative and look forward to seeing the van in action changing lives.”

NGN is the gas distribution network for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Cumbria, transporting gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses across the region.

Ensuring children stay safe and know about the dangers of carbon monoxide is one of their key priorities. The HEY Children’s University tutors will travel around Hull and the East Riding to deliver these important sessions to schools.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be part of the Reading Van project, supporting children and young people in communities across Hull and East Riding.

“Developing these early skills is vitally important when we think about the workforce of the future, and ensuring young people are equipped with the tools they need to build careers and flourish in years to come.”

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