08 May 2024

Why I volunteer - Rob McBride from Jacobs

"My reading session is my favourite meeting of the week!"

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Rob McBride, Line of Business Director at our Gold Partner Jacobs is one of the company's 60 reading volunteers this school year. He was matched with a young pupil at St Patrick's Catholic Primary School in West Cumbria.

How did you come across Chapter One's programme?
The starting point was an email call out for volunteers that went around within Jacobs. I’d heard of the programme supported by some of our staff the previous year. The remote nature and the simple commitment of 30 minutes a week made it easy to say yes. It’s my favourite meeting each week (and I have a lot of meetings).

As a director in your organisation, what do you see involvement in Chapter One giving your teams and your colleagues?
It’s a simple and easy way to volunteer, whilst doing something with a major impact. We regularly highlight reading as a gateway skill, as it unlocks all other learning. We also see benefits for our staff - it’s great for wellbeing and everyone talks so positively about their involvement with Chapter One.

Tell us more about your relationship with your pupil over the course of the school year.
It took a few sessions to work out what my reader likes, but we have had great fun exploring the games and books available as we have worked through the Chapter One platform, which also allowed me to get up to speed at the start. Whether we are playing games or reading stories, it’s great to see the improvement week on week as we move through the different reading levels.

Could you tell us what you’ve learned and observed about reading with a child since you’ve been a volunteer?
Using the platform and relying on a mobile phone for communication is a great reminder on the use of words and sounds when you can’t see visual cues or draw on a board to describe things. Also, being patient and allowing the pupil to try different words and sounds to help to develop vocabulary is key. Some days have been more active than others, and we take turns to read where required. Being a Chapter One volunteer has also helped at home with my own grandchildren and how we now read together at home.

What would you say to someone who asked you what online volunteering was like?
Sign up! When volunteering or more broadly doing something extra is mentioned, it’s easy to say ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I’ll never find the time’. Chapter One makes the scheduling process so simple, it quickly becomes part of the working week. My reading session is my favourite meeting of the week!