Closing the literacy gap - our vision for 2019

  • An open book showing chapter one 

Like many businesses, we have always tried to ‘do our bit’ for the communities we work in. We’ve raised money, sponsored sports, done a bit of volunteering and sometimes offered our services pro bono. In 2019, we’re doing something a little different - as MD Tim Garratt explains

Last year we adopted a formal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy. We realised that if we harnessed the energy and enthusiasm that is evident throughout our business, we could really make a big difference. Our first official Charity of the Year was Guide Dogs UK. After a whole year of sponsored cake-baking and eating, donating, competing and quizzing, we raised enough to fund the initial training of two pups. Hopefully, they will go on to transform the lives of two people living with sight loss.

But it’s not always about donating money. Giving time and resources is also valuable. We regularly host another great charity – CHICKS - in our Derby office so they can train their volunteers. The money they save on hiring meeting rooms is spent directly on the children they help – and we’ve seen what a difference it makes.

When we learnt that the UK generally and Nottingham in particular is facing a huge literacy challenge, we knew this was an issue that needed practical action as well as funds.

Low literacy rates

The skills gap is apparent early: our poorest children start primary school 19 months behind their better-off peers in language and vocabulary and struggle to catch up from then on. What’s more, the UK has the lowest teenage literacy rates in the OECD. 

In 2019, then, we’ve signed the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge and will be working with the Literacy Trust actively trying to close the literacy gap. I have met with the Trust a few times and the work they are doing can be life changing. Our involvement with them will be in a number of areas, but the first is Words for Work - a fantastic programme that helps young people understand the link between success at school and later in life.

I’m looking forward to welcoming students into our workplace in an effort to help demystify ‘the office’ and help them communicate better. Who knows, we might even find some aspiring surveyors. And maybe we can show them how we hustle on a pool table at lunchtimes!

There is much work to do and we’ve got a range of other activities planned that will keep us busy all year. Literacy might come as second nature to some of us who had a privileged start in life. Not everyone does, but everyone has the ability to do something good. I’m keen we try to work to find those people, inspire them if we can and get them a better start in life.