The National Literacy Trust has teamed up with Siemens to help children across England improve their literacy skills whilst also learning about the importance of environmental advocacy and sustainability.
Thanks to funding support from Siemens, the National Literacy Trust has been able to offer bespoke training to over 240 community volunteers in England, enabling them to become Eco Literacy Champions. This training allows them to promote awareness of environmental issues and sustainability to children and families, whilst also helping to raise their literacy levels through specialised activities and events. This forms part of the wider Literacy Champions Programme from the National Literacy Trust, which enables specially trained volunteers to reach out to their communities and encourage them to engage with literacy. Cities benefitting from the Eco Literacy Champions initiative include Birmingham, Doncaster, Manchester, Peterborough and Swindon, and these are locations where the National Literacy Trust already runs established literacy hubs, working with schools, partners and the community to increase literacy levels.
The partnership has also supported the development of an interactive webpage on the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life site, full of free, educational, fun activities for children to do with their parents on themes including climate change, decarbonisation and renewable energy. These activities have also been built to include elements of literacy learning and improvement.
The Eco Literacy Champions are working in different ways across the country. Several of the hubs involved have seen the installation of eco lending libraries, featuring inspiring fiction and non-fiction titles. They have been put into public locations across the areas and are used by the champions as a resource in family sessions.
Simone Schehtman is the Founder and Director of Teamworks Karting, an eco-friendly go-karting track in Birmingham city centre, and has been a National Literacy Trust Eco Literacy Champion for over 6 months. For her, a key aspect of the programme is promoting an understanding of big issues on a relatable, community level and allowing young people to explore their creativity through literacy and the theme of environmentalism.
“Since becoming an Eco Literacy Champion I have overseen the installation of an eco-lending library corner at Teamworks Karting, and I was able to invite young people supported by social workers and living in foster to come and design, build, paint and fill it with me. It was fantastic to tap into their creativity and help them cultivate an interest in reading and learning about environmental issues.”
Additionally, Eco Literacy Champions are running community activation days, working with groups such as Community Farms, Park Friends groups and Community Gardens to help local families develop awareness of global issues on a relatable, local scale.
For example, in Peterborough Eco Literacy Champion Paula Landers and National Literacy Trust Project Officer Emma Morton put on an immersive event for children and parents at the city’s West Raven Community Garden. The day included a book gifting, free seeds, a scavenger hunt, a picnic, a nature quest with accompanying booklets and a storytelling session of Stick Man by Julia Donaldson.
West Raven staff were also on hand to answer any questions about planting and growing.
These impactful community outreach projects would not be possible without the support from Siemens.
Another Eco Literacy Champion, Deborah Cobb, who runs the eco-friendly Broadway Nursery in Peterborough is so grateful for Siemens’ involvement in the programme.
“I am a big supporter of what Siemens are doing as part of this project. It is so important that corporations realise their community obligations, and without their generous financial support my work at the nursery would be impossible. It’s fantastic to see a leading technology company taking proactive steps to instil a sense of eco-responsibility in today’s young generation.”
Partnering with the National Literacy Trust on the Eco Literacy Champions Programme is just one way that Siemens is driving the sustainability charge. The company has pledged to turn all its operations carbon neutral by 2030, an important development to recognise during UK Net Zero Week.
Olivia Whitlam, Head of Sustainability at Siemens UK says:
“It is our firm belief that companies play a pioneering role in the fight against climate change. We are delighted to offer our support to the Eco Literacy Champions Programme to help inspire the next generation to think about sustainability and live eco-friendly lives.
“Our commitment to 1.5 degree Science Based Target will help humanity and the environment on a global scale, but we understand that education and understanding at the community level is essential in changing the world. We are so proud that our investment is helping children and families across England develop essential literacy skills and an understanding of the environmental challenges we face today.”
Emma Morton, Project Officer & Community Literacy Co-ordinator at the National Literacy Trust, comments:
“I am thrilled to be part of the Eco Literacy Champions initiative. Inspirational local volunteers like are having such a positive impact on families across our hubs by working tirelessly to engage children and their parents with environmental issues through educational events and activities.
“Not only are they encouraging local environmental action, they are also equipping the next generation with literacy skills key to following through with environmental advocacy later in life. I can’t wait to see where this programme takes us and I thank Siemens for their generous support in making this work possible.”