Penguin Random House has embarked on a two-year partnership with the National Literacy Trust (NLT).
According to the publisher, just this week ranked among the top 50 UK employers to have "taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace", the partnership demonstrates PRH’s dedication to improving social mobility in the UK in support of its wider mission to close the creativity gap.
National Literacy Trust's research currently shows that one in six adults in England and Northern Ireland currently lack the literacy skills expected of an 11 year-old, and in England, struggling to read is more closely linked to unemployment than in any other country. For children, England is one of the most unequal countries in terms of children’s reading levels, second only to Romania in the EU. The gap between the strongest and weakest readers is equivalent to seven years of schooling, and children in poverty face a much greater risk than their peers.
PRH said it wanted the partnership to give disadvantaged children, families and young people in the UK’s poorest communities the skills and creativity needed to help them get a job and become more successful in life. To this end, the publisher is supporting a number of different initiatives run by the charity through a colleague volunteering programme, colleague fundraising, and a goal to donate 150,000 books to NLT centres in disadvantaged areas across the UK. The firm will also fund 12 National Literacy Trust programmes to be delivered by colleagues at schools local to its offices in London and warehouses in Frating and Grantham, starting in 2019.
These programmes will include Early Words Together, which will work with parents of two-to-five-year-olds so they can support their child’s communication and language development at home, the Young Reader’s Programme, which will help primary school children discover enthusiasm for reading through a series of events and book gifting, and Words for Work, which will improve young people’s communication skills to prepare them for entering the workplace.
Tom Weldon, c.e.o. of Penguin Random House UK, said: “The stark figures on the implications of low literacy on social mobility underline just how important an issue this is for the future of the UK.” Jonathan Douglas, director, National Literacy Trust, said: “Poor literacy creates significant barriers in life for millions of disadvantaged people in the UK. Working together with Penguin Random House, we can transform the lives of thousands of children and young adults from the most deprived communities, giving them the literacy skills they need to succeed.”
PRH has a longstanding relationship with the National Literacy Trust and has supported the charity on several initiatives for a number of years. It a signatory for the Vision for Literacy pledge, which asks businesses to commit to championing reading and literacy both in their workforce and their local communities. It was also a founding partner of Read North East, a campaign led by the National Literacy Trust to raise literacy levels in the north east, where 17% of the population aged 16 to 65 have literacy skills at or below those expected of an 11-year-old.