An innovative drive to boost literacy levels is kick off in Nottingham today (Friday) thanks to a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Nottingham City Council and Small Steps Big Changes.

A National Literacy Trust Hub will be established in the city which will be known locally as Read On Nottingham.

National Literacy Trust Hubs work at a community level to tackle low literacy levels that are seriously impacting on people’s lives, by working with local partners to create long lasting change. Nottingham will join a list of existing Hubs set up by the charity around the country, including Bradford, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent and Swindon.

With funding from Small Steps Big Changes, Nottingham’s Big Lottery funded programme to improve the outcomes of 0 to three-year-olds, and the support of other education and literature-focused initiatives in the city such as library services, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the UNESCO City of Literature, Read On Nottingham will encourage the whole city to make reading, writing and talking a priority. The Hub will encompass a range of projects and initiatives to give young people the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

Research shows that literacy issues are prevalent across Nottingham and are more pronounced in poorer areas of the city. National Literacy Trust and Experian analysis of every parliamentary constituency in England found of the 20 wards in Nottingham, 17 are among the most in need of literacy support nationally.

Read On Nottingham will officially launch today with a literacy-themed bus tour of local primary schools and early years settings, kindly supported by Nottingham City Transport.

The bus will stop at five locations where pupils aged between one and five will climb on board to enjoy a performance by local interactive music workshop providers Rainbow Stripes, who will inspire the children to enjoy books and share stories with their families. Pupils will also be given new book and a Read On Nottingham bookmark to take home.

The bus will then make its way to the Angear Visitor Centre at Nottingham Lakeside Arts, where key partners and city wide stakeholders from businesses, academics, public sector and voluntary organisations will meet to celebrate the launch. Attendees will hear from this year’s Young Poet Laureate, Georgina Wilding, who will highlight the importance of literacy skills, share her experience growing up in Nottingham and perform one of the her poems.

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, said: “We are delighted to be working in Nottingham, a city which has already put literacy at the forefront of its mindset as a UNESCO City of Literature. We are looking forward to building innovative partnerships with local businesses, libraries, schools and other organisations, and taking our evidence-based programmes into local schools. Together we can ensure that every young person in Nottingham has the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.”

Nottingham Hub Manager, Emily Landsborough, said: “This is an exciting time for Nottingham and a chance to build on the fantastic literacy and education initiatives already being delivered in the city.  We know that reading for just 10 minutes a day will make a real difference to a child’s future. Read On Nottingham will encourage the whole city to champion the benefits of books and reading, inspiring the next generation to become lifelong readers. If you can read you can succeed!”

Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at Nottingham City Council, said: “There is a lot of very successful, joined-up work happening in our city to ensure children have the right access to books to bring about a love of reading as early as possible. Being able to read and communicate well are essential ingredients to children doing well in school and preparing for the world of work.

“Having the right partners working with us is also essential. We need a collective response – the council, schools, parents, libraries, the NHS, the voluntary and private sector, and now the National Literacy Trust – to ensure we are doing everything we can to give children not just the ability to read, but a love of reading that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“This is highlighted in Nottingham by our partnership work to promote the Dolly Parton Imagination Library – a fantastic charity which provides books to under-fives. I’m very proud that we recently extended this scheme into two more city wards, and we now have more than 4,000 local children registered with more than 100,000 books delivered since 2012.

“We have a proud heritage of literacy in our city, highlighted by the awarding of the UNESCO City of Literature status for the sheer quality and quantity of literary excellence. It’s important that we build on this for future generations.”

Councillor Webster, Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills at Nottingham City Council, added: “I welcome the launch of the new Literacy Trust Hub in Nottingham and look forward to seeing it grow and develop over the coming months. The work of the hub will make a difference to lots of children in Nottingham.

“We know that our primary schools in Nottingham do fantastic work and children make good progress, but additional and early intervention can improve this further.

“Reading is so important to children and is the gateway to many other strands of learning. Anything that we can do collectively to inspire a love of books from an early age is worthwhile.”