Businesses in Stoke commit to tackling local literacy challenge

10 Feb 2017

Stoke primaryStoke primaryLeading businesses in Stoke-on-Trent have pledged to take action to improve literacy levels in the city by signing a Local Business Promise.

Representatives from 14 companies including Steelite International, Shelton Care LTD, Michelin Tyre PLC and the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce attended a business breakfast at Synectic Solutions on Wednesday 8 February, where they found out how they can invest their knowledge and resources into raising literacy levels in the city.

The event was part of the work of our Stoke-on-Trent Hub, which we launched in November 2016 with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, delivered in partnership with the City Learning Trust.

At the event, our Hubs Manager Jason Vit highlighted how raising literacy levels in Stoke-on-Trent will contribute to the economic growth of the city, by helping individuals to gain the skills they need to access high-quality jobs and providing businesses with access to a skilled local workforce.

Businesses were presented with a range of ways that they can champion the vital work of the Hub, which aims to equip Stoke-on-Trent’s young people with the literacy skills they need to succeed. This includes sponsoring literacy projects in schools, employee volunteering and fundraising, and spreading literacy messages through their workforces.

Jason Vit said:

“We know that local businesses can play a big part in raising local literacy levels because they have the resources, reach and local knowledge to make a real impact.  We are thrilled to see so many firms in Stoke-on-Trent have committed to improving the futures of children in the city by signing the Stoke-on-Trent Local Business Promise.”

Business also heard from Karl Thomas, Commercial & Customer Director at Boots Opticians, who shared the benefits that supporting the literacy challenge can bring to businesses. Boots Opticians launched a nationwide partnership with the National Literacy Trust in 2015 to highlight the links between eye health and literacy.

Councillor Janine Bridges, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for education and economy, said:

“We believe that children in Stoke-on-Trent deserve the best start in life. Encouraging a love of early reading is one of the best gifts we can give to children. It will affect the way they learn and develop as well as opening up a world of information and places to relax and escape to. The new initiative with the National Literacy Trust will add value to the excellent work being carried out through investments in school readiness and early years."

Carl Ward, Chief Executive, City Learning Trust said:

“We are delighted to be partnered with the National Literacy Trust and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to deliver the Stoke-on-Trent Literacy Hub. It is important that literacy work continues from primary through to secondary schools to ensure our young people have the best opportunities in life. We are pleased to support this development work in secondary schools and to use our experience and knowledge of working with business networks to encourage greater collaboration between schools and business.”

The Stoke-on-Trent Literacy Hub encompasses a range of innovative projects and partnerships, including in-depth support for schools and the Stoke Reads campaign to engage the whole city in reading for enjoyment. Families will have an opportunity to support Stoke Reads on Wednesday 22 February, when there will be storytelling at Intu Potteries and free books will be gifted to children.

Businesses interested in support the Stoke Literacy Hub should contact Rebecca Parsons at

Businesses in attendance at the business breakfast: Steelite International, M&M Group, Michelin Tyre PLC, Synectics Solutions LTD, Shelton Care LTD, Dains LLP, Chesca’s Books, Bryonys Bookworms Big and Small, PlinkFizz, Regent Theatre, Affinity Sutton Homes, The Babington Group, Boots Opticians and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

Other organisations in attendance: Beanstalk, Stoke-on-Trent College and Staffordshire University.