A retired schoolteacher from Carrickfergus has been recognised for her literacy support role with a children’s charity.
Joyce Evans volunteers with Barnardo’s Dr B’s Kitchen, a restaurant based in Belfast which trains young people with learning difficulties for a career in the catering industry.
Joyce got involved after taking early retirement from a Belfast Education and Library Board Reading Centre which she ran for 17 years. The centre provided extra literacy support to children from North Belfast. While working at the Reading Centre Joyce discovered Dr B’s Kitchen and would call in for a coffee whenever she was passing which eventually led to her engaging them for catering events at the centre.
Joyce says she was always impressed with the staff at the restaurant, their commitment to the young people and the standard of training provided and over time a friendship was built up. A few years after she retired, the staff at Dr B’s suggested she volunteer as a literacy tutor with them, providing extra support on a one to one basis for those studying for their Essential Skills Certificates.
Joyce began volunteering in September 2013 and spends every Wednesday from 9.00am until 3.00pm tutoring a number of young people on an individual basis.
“Reading is a vital component in every day life. For a non-reader life can be very difficult and to get a job you have to be literate. In the hospitality industry you need to be able to read menus, write down orders, read and follow recipes and have health and hygiene certificates, so being able to read can transform your life,” said Joyce.
Joyce added the key to helping someone improve their literacy is for them to realise the benefits and to want to learn. “Over the years I have become an expert in Man United, Liverpool FC and more recently One Direction! The young people then move on to ‘Quick Read’ books by established authors such as Ian Rankin, Andy McNab, Lynda La Plante and John Boyne.”
“It’s the delight on their faces when they finish their first novel and realise they can read. Through learning to read they gain so much confidence and that is reflected in everything they do and it gives me so much pleasure to see the smile on their faces.”
Joyce, who was presented with a certificate by Barnardo’s NI at a reception at Cultra Manor House, says she looks forward to her Wednesday’s at Dr B’s and would encourage others to consider volunteering.
“Volunteering is really rewarding I am able to use my skill set to help young people become more proficient readers and build their confidence and it is wonderful to see them progressing and feeling proud of themselves. Barnardo’s needs volunteers in a wide variety of roles, from mentoring and tutoring to volunteering in the shops to fundraising or providing admin assistance - there is a role to suit everyone.”
For more information contact volunteering advisor Helen Connolly, telephone 028 9067 2366, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.barnardos.org.uk