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Giving the Gift of Reading to Children in Nottingham

Nottingham-based charity, Imagination Library, hosted business leaders at Nottingham Castle for an evening of awareness-raising about the work the organisation does to bring the joy of reading to life for children across the city.

Businesses decision-makers from across Nottingham were invited to attend The Books and Business event,  to understand the importance of the charity scheme and how it provides children aged nought to five with crucial reading resources in their early years. Guests at the event learnt how just £125 could put one child through the entire five-year scheme.

Kicking off the evening, leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor David Mellen, announced the news that 400,000 books have already been delivered to 10,000 children across 10 of the 20 wards in Nottingham. However, for this trajectory to continue, the Imagination Library is in need of further funding.

Councillor David Mellen said: “We’re thrilled with how many children we’ve reached so far with our programme, but we want to be able to support more families and their children, which requires the help of local businesses. The event was a great success and we’re well on the way to fundraising enough to sponsor more children in Nottingham that are in desperate need of being granted the fairest start in life with access to a wealth of stories to spark their imaginations.”

Councillor David Mellen was joined by guest speakers, Councillor Cheryll Bernard, the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education, and The Imagination Library representative Helen Hastle (DPIL UK).

Helen emphasised the importance of child development in their earliest years and how the scheme was created to help close the gap that some children face when starting school, if they haven’t been able to access reading material in early development.

Research explains that the most important time in a child’s development is within the first two years when major brain connections are made forming the foundations for their development.

The highlight of the “Books and Business” event was hearing first-hand from parents who have benefited from The Imagination Library scheme.

Amanda Doughty, a mum of three explained: “The Imagination Library Nottingham scheme has provided my husband with a vital bonding opportunity and has become a magical experience for my children to receive their own books each month, which has ignited a love for reading that they now have for the rest of their lives.”

Graham Cartledge, a lead supporter and fundraiser of The Imagination Library Nottingham, said: “When thinking about which charity to sponsor, The Imagination Library was an easy choice to make, their ethos around children being the future of our city matches ours, and we’re very happy to support their important work.”

The evening ended on a high with a £500 donation cheque from property investment and development group Conygar. A generous donation that will put four local children through the entire Imagination Library Nottingham scheme.

Without the support of donations, the Imagination Library would not be able to provide children with the access to their own, new book every month, that they would otherwise not be able to have.

If you would like to learn more about the Imagination Library, and how you can help please visit the Imagination Library Nottingham website.

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L to R Paul Southby, High Sherriff of Nottinghamshire and Councillor David Mellen

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About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library In 1995, Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her vision was to get children to fall in love with reading by giving them a specially selected free book each month from birth until their fifth birthday. By 2000, the scheme was so popular it was rolled out to different communities across the US. The Nottingham story The vision of the Imagination Library was first sparked in Nottingham in 2009 by Cheryl Mitchell, a Teaching Assistant at Fernwood Infant School, Wollaton. Cheryl campaigned to raise funds and encouraged people to support the charity. Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to help to co-ordinate fundraising; enabling the Imagination Library to be set up in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough. Nottingham City Council’s Children’s Centres were enrolled to administer the scheme and Health Visitors promoted the scheme to parents. The scheme was then expanded to Hyson Green, Radford and Dunkirk and Lenton, thanks to major funding from Castle Cavendish – a regeneration charity which aims to improve the quality of life for people in Nottingham. In 2014, Nottingham won a National Lottery bid to support more young children. Headed by Nottingham CityCare partnership, Small Steps Big Changes (SSBC) is a £45m programme of activities and initiatives to give Nottingham’s 0–5-year-olds a better start in life. The scheme is now running successfully in ten of the city’s 20 wards.

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