Charity Schools

Bicester volunteers needed

By Sarah Edwards at

Bicester-based charity ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children) is looking for more volunteers to support children in Oxfordshire primary schools.

Volunteers spend one and a half hours twice a week during the school day helping children who are struggling with reading.

Qualifications are not needed, just good communication skills, patience, enthusiasm and kindness.

ARCh is a registered charity based in Bicester but covering the whole of Oxfordshire.

Jane Rendle, Development Manager said: “We recruit, train and support volunteers who help selected primary school children develop a love of reading. No formal qualifications are required, just enthusiasm for reading, enjoyment of children’s company and good communication skills.

“After successfully completing our application and checking process and training course, each volunteer is assigned to a primary school near their home or place of work. They visit the school twice a week for an hour and a half at a time during the school day and the school selects three children for each volunteer to work with.”

Each child benefits from two half hour sessions on a one to one basis with their helper each week. The charity provides books and games to use in the sessions and these are personalised to the individual children to encourage them to enjoy reading.

Jane added: “The commitment is a long term one as volunteers continue to work with the same three children for the entire year so as to build a supportive mentoring relationship and boost confidence. We do therefore ask volunteers to commit to work with ARCh for at least a year.

“We have around 250 volunteers at present but always need more, particularly in areas such as Bicester. In addition to our normal volunteering model we also operate a Company Volunteering scheme whereby employers release staff members to volunteer for us for one hour a week. We are looking for more businesses to work with.”

Full training is given and ongoing support and reimbursement of travel expenses. The charity obtains enhanced DBS checks on all volunteers before placement.

To find out more go to or call the ARCh office on 01869 320380.arch