A READING charity is desperate for volunteers to help children develop a love of books.

Assisted Reading for Children, ARCh, needs people to help youngsters who are struggling to read at schools across Oxfordshire.

People must be able to commit to three hours a week for a year, but the charity says the time will be well spent.

Development manager Elaine Adams said: “We are finding it busier than ever.

“The need for our service has grown this year so much that we have had to recruit two new members of staff and move to a larger office in Bicester.

“We have got schools waiting for volunteers, particularly in Bicester and Banbury.”

Based on figures from a questionnaire sent to teachers, 98 per cent of youngsters who took part in the scheme in 2011 showed an improved attitude to, and confidence in, reading. Teachers also overwhelmingly reported that they had seen the children’s self-confidence improve.

The charity, now in its fifth year, has moved to larger premises in Gobles Court, Bicester.

It covers the entire county and has more than 100 schools and 240 volunteers on its books.

ARCh recruits and trains people to go into a local school three hours a week, armed with a box of books and educational games, to work with three children for the whole school year.

Among the volunteers are former teachers and academics, trainee teachers and people who love reading and have spare time.

The charity is funded by businesses, local councils, charities and trusts, and schools are charged a contribution for the service.

Mrs Adams said: “The results are brilliant. After having a person sitting with them over a whole year they build up a good relationship.

“Volunteers adore it. Often at the start they are not sure how they will get on, but by the end of the year the children are blooming, and diving into the book box and really loving reading.

“It’s important for children to enjoy sessions but volunteers need to as well.

“Most of the volunteers stay with us year after year.”

  • The charity is also looking for a new sponsor. For the past three years it has been financially supported by builders merchant Wates, but that funding comes to an end next spring For more information view www.archoxfordshire.org.uk