Sheffield literacy campaign helps poor children

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AN ARMY of experts is being drafted in to help every child living below the breadline in Sheffield in a bid to overturn the link between child poverty and poor levels of literacy.

Sheffield Council says child poverty has a big impact on language development, central to children’s life chances.

With one in five families in Sheffield living in poverty, the authority is ‘taking head-on action’ to boost reading, writing and communication.

And dozens of voluntary Communication Ambassadors are being brought in to help families across the city to support children’s communication development in the home.

Already 30 are working across the city. Now the council has signed up 20 more, who will begin working in September when children go back to school. The ambassadors have been recruited and trained by I CAN, a national communication charity, at no cost to the council.

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for children, said: “It is so important we do everything we can to get everyone involved in helping the next generation thrive.

“Without this vital input from these ambassadors, a number of children would be struggling with grasping even the basics in reading and writing, let alone communication skills. It is essential we act now to prevent problems escalating in the future.

“We need to give children every chance to get the best possible start in life. I whole-heartedly support the ambassadors and thank I CAN for helping us with this support.”

Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive of I CAN, said: “We are thrilled by how successful the Communication Ambassador project has been in Sheffield.

“Communication skills are critical for a child’s success at school, at work and in life. By helping babies, toddlers and young children to learn, to speak, to listen and understand, we can ensure they start school in the best possible position.

“Sheffield is making real strides to ensure children’s communication is a priority and we look forward to continuing to work together with the city and our team of Communication Ambassadors.”