Why I volunteer - Luisa Lamb, Clyde & Co

"Chapter One is a fabulous opportunity to support a child’s reading through an employer-supported volunteering model."

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Luisa Lamb is a Partner at our Silver Partner Clyde & Co, whose 30 volunteers have provided over 180 hours of one-to-one online reading support to Chapter One children so far this school year. Clyde & Co is also one of our founding partners for our launch in Birmingham primary schools in September 2024, donating an additional team of volunteers to help us transform children's futures with one-to-one reading support at the time when they need it the most. We caught up with Luisa to see how her first year of being a Chapter One volunteer has gone.

What motivated you to begin volunteer reading with Chapter One?
I've always wanted to support a child to learn to read. My kids are now 17 and 14, so they’re obviously past that stage, but I could just see the benefit of it from how they developed. I know it's something that a lot of families struggle to do just because of the pressures of modern living, so Chapter One is a fabulous opportunity to support a child’s reading through an employer-supported volunteering model. I did a little bit of paired reading in-person at my children’s school when they were younger so signing up to volunteer with Chapter One seemed like a natural progression to that.

What are the benefits of being a Chapter One volunteer?
Personally, I think it's an absolute break from the stresses of working as a lawyer. You get to have the sheer delight of 5 and 6 year-olds and their humour, stories and how they laugh. And I get to make a difference. I get to see my pupils coming along with their reading and growing in confidence too. So from a personal point of view, it's a very therapeutic thing, as I’m giving something back.

There are also professional benefits. I think it complements my work in the sense that you are dealing with a wide range of individuals and issues. So whilst my job in the legal sector, working with insurers and brokers, is very different to my role as a Chapter One volunteer, I am still practising patience and helping to develop people, so it flows on from that nicely. In both my roles at Clyde & Co and at Chapter One, I use that very important skill of congratulating people. Saying “well done” and always being that positive reinforcer is crucial to children, as well as those that you work with, as everyone develops from that.

Could you tell us about the pupils you are reading with and the progress they have made over the year so far?
I'm reading with two little girls, so I get to have two fantastic 30-minute reading sessions every week. They have very different personalities - one's very confident and giggly. The other one started off really shy and would barely say a word for quite a while, but she’s now really confident, which is an absolute delight. I can see the progress they are making every week and just how much they're developing, not only in terms of the stories and their reading, but also in terms of our relationships!

Both of the girls absolutely love the whiteboard feature, where you make up your sentences on the screen during the reading session. They just think it's so funny that we can type out their name and put different scenarios in. It’s lovely because we can have a bit of fun at the end of a session. It’s just so simple, but genius - engaging them whilst they're developing at the same time. They love to put a sentence together. So every week it’s, “Can we do the whiteboard?”, and it’s become the highlight of the session!

I know from my colleagues at Clyde & Co who are also Chapter One volunteers, that they all just love it too. We all chat about the different personalities that we read with - it’s a good conversation topic! It's so rewarding, and the fact that it comes as part of the working day - that’s just brilliant.

Have you noted any changes in reading skills like phonics, fluency and comprehension?
Definitely. Both of my readers started with slightly different reading levels, but now I can see that they both read and put words together with a lot more ease. With the Word Sort game - where you sort words into different coloured boxes based on whether a sound is in a word or not - at the beginning, they could only really get it if a word began with that letter/sound (rather than identifying the sound in the word as a whole). But now they have got there, and they sort the words really quickly! We always talk about the stories when we read them. Again, with the World Whirled game, at the beginning they both found it tough. But now, they’ve grasped it and can look for patterns and can pull the word together much more quickly.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a Chapter One volunteer?
Just get involved - it's so rewarding!

How can companies get involved in Chapter One?

Chapter One’s virtual, time-efficient, flexible model for volunteering will enhance your company’s employee value proposition, whilst fulfilling CSR or social value commitments around education, social mobility and inclusion. Employees can:

- volunteer online directly from their desks with no travel

- make a direct impact on the lives of children from disadvantaged communities

- support local communities across the UK

- improve their own well-being by helping others

- reconnect with your company’s social purpose

If you’re interested in joining us, we’d love to hear from you! You’ll find out who we currently work with on our partners’ page. You can contact us here or email sarah.taylor@chapterone.org.