Volunteers are needed to help children in the Shankill area with homework and, in particular with their reading.
The Rev Canon Bro David Jardine, Director of Equipping for Life, a faith-based community organisation founded in 2018, said the charity is looking 50-70 volunteer tutors to add to an established team of 160 poised to help when permitted to return to schools.
The charity was founded on David’s vision – to encourage church people to give their services free of charge to serve those living in areas which are disadvantaged.
David said volunteers began working on the Shankill Road in Belfast and have since moved to Rathcoole, Monkstown, Taughmonagh, Wheatfield, Ballyduff and East Belfast. Preparations are also well underway to move into eight provincial towns.
“The place where we are getting most opportunities is in schools, taking children for reading,” David said.
“Although we have not been able to go into schools during the pandemic, we have 160 volunteer tutors ready to go back in September. Each week they take two children for half an hour each.
“The children love this personal attention because everything we do is one-to-one. The spiritual dimension of the ministry is also very important. We pray a great deal in the background over every area of the ministry. Many would say this is the real reason why we have grown so quickly in a short space of time.”
David said there has been much publicity about how children’s education has suffered during the pandemic, especially in the areas where Equipping for Life has been working.
“Recently we sent an email to 10 schools in the Shankill area, offering particular ways in which we could help when the schools are open to us in September. Inside five minutes seven of them were back to us saying they would like a Homework Club, and six requested an extra team of volunteers to go in every week.
“Certainly when we do go back the job will be a big one. To honour the opportunities being given to us, we need another 50 – 70 volunteers.
“Do you feel that you would like to help?” David appealed. “You could take children for reading one hour per week, become a prayer partner – a very important role – or make available particular talents that you have.”
For more information, visit the Equipping for Life website or ring Pat Hutchinson at 07788 9572800.