A RENEWED call has been made for volunteers to help the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

Work has already started in schools on the Oxford Mail-backed campaign and about 40 volunteers have been recruited to read one-to-one with children taking part.

Initially, 101 people put themselves forward to volunteer for the scheme, which aims to improve education results and foster a love of reading.

But 30 didn’t respond when the National Literacy Trust (NLT) came back to them, and others were unable to commit to the programme.

Now that organisers know how many children in each school are taking part, they are asking for more help. Volunteer manager Bianca Bailey said she was particularly keen to recruit volunteers in central Oxford, Botley, Carterton, Abingdon, and Didcot.

She said: “Schools in those areas are quite keen to put through quite a few pupils so we need more volunteers. Some of the schools are keen to put forward as many people as they can.”

She hopes to recruit about 30 volunteers from the Abingdon and Didcot area, and at least 10 from Carterton, plus another five to 10 from Oxford and Botley.

One school in Carterton hoped to put 10 children through the scheme, but has not managed to recruit any volunteers through the school. Although a number of those who signed up to take part live in nearby Witney, none were able to travel to Carterton.

Those taking part need to be prepared to receive about half a day’s training, then spend two 30-minute sessions with a child each week for 10 weeks.

Ms Bailey said she had been surprised – and delighted – by the number of pupils individual schools hoped to involve in the programme.

She said: “Since the volunteer co-ordinator training, we have seen schools suggesting much higher numbers.

“Now they have seen how easy it is to get the programme started, they want to do it with more children.

“I have got one school that wants to put forward 14 children.”

The scheme has also just been opened up to all Oxfordshire schools, meaning more are likely to sign up and further volunteers needed. Currently 45 schools are taking part.

Ms Bailey said she was confident she would be able to place every volunteer who came forward.

County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said: “For a county that was at the bottom of the league for reading and writing, this is so important for everybody and it’s already working.”

To find out about taking part, email volunteering.oxfordshire@literacytrust.org.uk