WHSmith, a leading retailer for news, books and convenience, donated 650 stationery packs to Our Stories in order to support local children’s summertime writing and support families over the return to school across the North Yorkshire Coast. The free bundles of pencil cases, pens and notebooks form part of Our Stories commitment to boosting literacy rates in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey, in partnership with the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area.
Our Stories partnered with local housing provider Beyond Housing to distribute the packs through their Summer Superstars programme for working or furloughed local families who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. While Beyond Housing provided free lunch packages over the summer holidays to families not eligible for the free school meals voucher scheme, in addition to the stationery packs Our Stories donated weekly bundles of books, magazines and Roald Dahl themed activity packs to encourage children to stay engaged in reading during the holidays. In total, almost 1,000 packs were distributed to families via five community hubs.
Our research shows that more children and young people are expressing themselves through creative writing in print during lockdown2. One in four (25.9%) have written more in a diary or journal, around a fifth have written more letters (21.5%) and short stories (19%) and one in eight have penned more song lyrics (12.5%). The increase has a profoundly positive effect on wellbeing, as two in five (41.3%) children said writing during lockdown made them feel better.
The donation meant more children could put pen to paper and enjoy the mood-boosting effects of writing for fun. For recipients of the packs on the North Yorkshire Coast, the stationery packs can be put to use for fun activities such as Roald Dahl writing activities available on the Our Stories Facebook page.
Over the summer, WHSmith donated a total of 10,000 stationery packs to children and young people in 14 UK communities, including the North Yorkshire Coast, where the National Literacy Trust currently delivers place-based campaigns, activities and events to improve the literacy levels and future prospects of local children and families.
Heidi Reynolds, Retail Director at WHSmith said:
“We’re delighted to provide 10,000 children across the UK with stationery packs for the summer holidays and back to school period. This initiative continues our long-standing support of the National Literacy Trust, who we have worked with for more than 15 years to help build the literacy skills of children and young people who need it most.
“It’s been a pleasure to hear about the positive response from children across the North Yorkshire Coast and we’re glad we’ve been able to support!”
Liz Dyer, Our Stories Manager, said:
“We’re delighted to have been able to support Beyond Housing’s Summer Superstars Programme across Whitby, Scarborough and Filey, thanks to the generous support of WHSmith. It’s been wonderful seeing how children have engaged with our Roald Dahl challenges using their new stationery, and we look forward to seeing children put their new writing sets to use on their return to school.
“The National Literacy Trust’s recent research highlighted the transformative power of putting pen to paper for children and young people. Now, more than ever, we need to provide the next generation with the tools they need to express themselves!”
Stephanie Lake, Community Connector Coordinator at Beyond Housing, said:
“Beyond Housing’s Summer Superstars programme was an excellent opportunity to support families who were struggling through the holiday period while dealing with the financial implications of furlough, short hours or self-employment following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Running the programme with valued partners like WHSmith and the National Literacy Trust added a creative dimension which proved to be a great hit with the youngsters and parents alike. We are very grateful for the wonderful donation of stationery packs, books, magazines and activity packs that kept so many children happily occupied throughout the holidays.”