On 8 July we held an event Number 11 Downing Street to celebrate the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge with key partners. We're very grateful to Frances Osborne for supporting the Summer Reading Challenge and for hosting us at Number 11. The following is an extract from Miranda McKearney's speech at the event.
If you struggle with reading so much of life is closed to you - education, employment and participation in community life. So our mission is to create a fairer society by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers.
Tonight we're here to thank all the partners behind the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge which goes live in libraries all over England and Wales on Saturday, and will be launched to the public in Trafalgar Square as part of the Evening Standard's Get Reading festival that day. The Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland is already going great guns, as schools break up earlier there.
If we want a fairer society we all need to help children love reading, and the Summer Reading Challenge's alchemy helps us do just that. We have a huge number of long standing Summer Reading Challenge partners to whom we're extremely grateful. We're also developing some new partnerships: we're working with the National Association for the Teaching of English to increase schools' engagement in the Challenge; all 10 of the Arts Council's Bridge organisations and as well as Trinity College have worked with us to pilot linking the Summer Reading Challenge with Arts Award; Macmillan Children's Books have supported a linked logbook; and library technology company D-Tech has sponsored work on the Summer Reading Challenge website.
In the last three years we have been supporting librarians to develop the involvement of young Reading Activist volunteers, who act as motivational community mentors to the children doing the Challenge. I'm honoured to welcome three representatives of this growing army of inspiring young people: Philip, Harreeka and Abigail.
Our volunteering work has been supported by the Social Action Fund and the John Laing Charitable Foundation and it's really great of John Laing to support us in holding tonight's reception.
Gift from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
To mark its 25th anniversary, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is making a series of gifts. Their final one is to The Reading Agency. And it's a gift of £1m. This will help us transform our work with young people into a new Reading Activist Challenge, so that we can help thousands more young volunteers like those you've just heard from tonight can support reading in their communities and develop vital skills and a love of reading along the way.
I can't thank the Paul Hamlyn Foundation enough. As a charity, we've never had a transformational gift like this and it is just so heartening to be one of the five organisations singled out for the Foundation's generosity. The most cheering thing of all is how it will help us significantly increase the impact of our work, and make such a difference to the lives of thousands more young people.
This gift sits alongside the support from our long term funders. We could never have got this far without you, and we badly need your continued support to push on. I'd especially like to thank the Arts Council who backed us from the very start ten years ago, and now include us in their portfolio of nationally funded organisations.
Read about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Gift and how it will transform our Reading Activists prgramme.
Read more on the Summer Reading Challenge by Miranda McKearney from her speech at the Scottish Parliament in June.
Children can sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge at their local library.