The Six Book Challenge runs successfully in workplaces all over the UK from supermarkets to hospitals, offices, transport depots and the Army. In the best cases it's used to engage employees in further learning, break down barriers across the workplace and introduce a reading culture. Many workplaces use the Quick Reads series of books and get book swaps going; others link with their local library.
It can take people by surprise how quickly the Six Book Challenge gets moving in a workplace given the right kind of promotion. Mayank Pandit, UNISON union learning rep for Leicester City Council Transport Department says: "When I started, I thought I would be lucky to get 20 people signed up. Then I thought I would try for 30, and now I have over 40."
So what makes the Six Book Challenge a success in this wide variety of settings? Here are some tips from workplaces running the Challenge, some reinvigorating it each year, some trying it for the first time.
1. Play to your strengths
"Do what you're best at. That's what I always say," says Sandra Absalom, South West Regional Learning Secretary for the CWU at the Royal Mail depot at Swindon. "And what I do best is talk. I talk about the Challenge a lot. I don't just rely on the posters. I go out and talk to people."
2. Reach out
Linking up with another workplace can generate more of a buzz in your own company. Ya Ching Darnell, ULR at transport company Merseytravel, has run the Challenge many times but finds it's not always easy to keep it growing. "I had 100 people signed up but I thought, where can I get more?" So she contacted other organisations that work in the same building, including the company that handles Liverpool's recycling and waste disposal. "I went and talked to them and they were really interested in taking part."
3. Keep up the momentum
Connecting Learners in Swansea have got it sorted this year: monthly email reminders for those taking part in the Challenge, a book swap to stock the shelves in the café, and World Book Night to spur people on to their next book. "We've got 46 people signed up and it's going really well," says Project Manager Karen Fisher. "There's a lot of talk about the books in the café, and that's lovely to hear."
4. Make people notice
At the Tesco Express in Watford they had the great idea of creating a huge book in which they put the names of all the Challenge completers. "I've been really surprised by how many staff have got involved - 90 so far," reports William Waite, shop worker and Eastern Division Organising Officer for Usdaw. "I thought I would just get the 10-15 usual readers but it's got a lot broader than that. We've had some people who really weren't confident readers but now they're giving it a go."
You can order materials from our shop and find further guidance on our resources page. You can also enter a prize draw for workplaces run in association with the Campaign for Learning and Transworld Publishers - deadline 29 June 2015.
Please contact David Kendall if you have any questions about running the Six Book Challenge in workplaces.