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Changing the story for children

Helping children to develop the reading skills and confidence they need for a fair chance in life through our support with the Bookmark programme.

Supporting children's literacy and education recovery

We are proud of the positive impact we have through our charitable partnerships.  Bookmark, the children’s literacy charity, is one of these.  

Through our donations to date totalling £170,000 and our employees delivering voluntary reading sessions through the Bookmark programme, we are giving disadvantaged children the reading skills, confidence and enjoyment of reading they need for a fair chance in life. 

This year’s SATs results show that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has widened to its largest level in 10 years. Even before the pandemic, more than one in four children would leave primary school unable to read well, but the Fair Education Alliance (FEA) Report Card 2022 has shown that the most disadvantaged pupils are leaving school a year behind their non-disadvantaged peers. 

School demand for the Bookmark reading programmes has absolutely skyrocketed this year and Bookmark are looking for as many Close Brothers volunteers as possible to support children next academic year!

Making a lasting impact on children's futures

“I like reading with my volunteer because I can have a try and get smarter”
Child on a Bookmark programme

How we helped change the story for children like Daisy

Daisy is 7 years old and in Year 3 at a primary school in South London. Prior to taking part in the Bookmark reading programme, Daisy had a "big dislike of reading" says her Deputy Headteacher Victoria. Daisy has told her teachers "it's exhausting, it's tough and it makes my brain hurt." Due to this, Victoria says, she will avoid reading at any opportunity, and isn't interested in any sort of book.

During phonic assessments, it was noted that Daisy was a low ability reader and there was a distinct gap between how she was presenting with her speech and her ability to read. She saw herself as bad at reading and identified with that very strongly.

Thanks to Bookmark, Daisy has worked hard to shake that off and battle through this mental block. 

Daisy has taken part in multiple volunteer-led reading programmes with Bookmark. After being hesitant to start with they noticed quickly that Daisy took straight to it.  She could even be heard laughing and giggling during her reading session and enjoyed the good quality time with her volunteer. 

Since taking part in the programme Daisy has developed a love of reading. The school introduced scrapbooks for the pupils and encouraged them to create a page a week on reading for pleasure. Before Bookmark she didn’t do any reading at home, now you can see her mum has spent time with her creating the reading scrapbook, there is no way this would have happened before.

"Daisy brought the positivity for reading home as well as her love of stories. She's so much more confident."

Note: Name has been changed. 

Our achievements so far with Bookmark

Bookmark aims to be available to all children who are at risk of falling behind in their reading, so that together with partners like us, we move towards a world where every child can read.

Together, we can continue to reach more children than ever.

  • Our donation and volunteers have been instrumental in helping Bookmark deliver a total of 40,100 one-to-one reading sessions to more than 2,200 children in 2023.
  • This year, Close Brothers volunteers delivered 338 reading sessions to children across the country bringing the overall total of Close Brothers reading sessions delivered to almost 800!

Of the children reading with Bookmark in the summer term of 2023:

  • 95% of teachers noticed an increase in the reading skill of pupils enrolled in the reading programme.
  • 87% of teachers noticed an increase in the reading skill of pupils enrolled in the reading programme.

Hear from our volunteers

"Watching the child I read with take onboard the feedback and improve was such a great feeling!"


"It's lovely to take a short break from my working day to read with a child.  I would do it 10 times a day if I could!"


"I've really enjoyed it, especially the fact that it's online.  It was good to see he progressed in terms of ability and confidence.  Reading is so absolutely fundamental, so to be able to give back in this way was really rewarding."



"It was brilliant I absolutely love it; I'm definitely putting myself in for another set of twelve after the kids are back." 


"One young boy who said at the start of his reading programme 'I don't like reading' by the end of his finished programme was saying 'I'm a good reader.' I've seen the progressions of confidence and I've seen it with a lot of them which is really lovely."