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Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall supports campaign to tackle low literacy in Middlesbrough

2 May 2013

Today, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will join Middlesbrough schoolchildren, authors, poets and local businesses to celebrate the first year of the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign. 

The campaign is run by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and supported with funding from the Booker Prize Foundation and the Man Charitable Trust. Bringing together national and local partners, it encompasses a range of exciting projects, activities and events in Middlesbrough to give children and families the literacy skills they need to succeed in everyday life. 

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, who has been the National Literacy Trust’s Patron since November 2010, will be finding out more about the charity’s work in Middlesbrough and meeting some of the partners and children who have taken part during the year. 

During the event Her Royal Highness will:

  • join in with a creative writing workshop led by children’s author Vivian French in Middlesbrough’s Central Library
  • listen to a poetry jam with local poets David Harmer and Craig Bradley in Centre Square alongside 500 children from local Middlesbrough schools
  • hear poetry readings from the winners of the ‘Love Middlesbrough’ poetry competition
  • give out children’s books to the crowd outside the Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation bus with Chief Executive Neil Bausor and club mascot Roary the Lion
  • join partners, funders, families and special guests at a reception hosted at mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, the town’s flagship art gallery to share stories and successes of the campaign.

The Middlesbrough Reading Campaign tackles low literacy in an area where children often start school without the spoken language they need to make a success of their education. This gap in achievement continues into adulthood, and in some areas of Middlesbrough 40% of adults have such low literacy levels that everyday life becomes difficult. This compares with just 11% of the UK population who struggle to this extent.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says:

We’re delighted to have Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall support our work in raising the profile of literacy in Middlesbrough. Today marks a real celebration of the exciting activities we’ve launched in Middlesbrough during the past year and our achievements in improving literacy in the community. We’re looking forward to building on the valuable partnerships we have made with local businesses, schools and members of the community in the coming year.

Middlesbrough Council's Vice Chairman Councillor Ron Lowes said:

We are very proud of our library services in Middlesbrough, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the joy of reading reaches as wide an audience as possible.

We are delighted to be hosting this celebration of the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign, and particularly pleased that The Duchess of Cornwall will be attending to see first-hand the great work being carried out here.

Allison Potter, Literacy Adviser for Middlesbrough who is leading the campaign says:

We’ve reached so many more families and children in Middlesbrough by making vital links in the community.  This has not only raised the importance of literacy and reading but has also made it fun. It’s been fantastic to see the community coming together in support of the campaign, which will continue to make a sustainable difference to Middlesbrough’s learning outcomes and employability. Middlesbrough is just the beginning, we hope to roll out similar schemes in other areas of the country.

To date among many other activities the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign has:

  •  Run a local media campaign, raising awareness of the importance of literacy skills and sharing reading and writing tips via local press, community radio, parenting media and a dedicated campaign microsite
  • Worked with Middlesbrough Football Club in the Community to improve young people’s communication skills and prepare them for work
  • Worked with Erimus Housing the largest local social housing provider with 11,000 properties, to distribute books and campaign messages
  • Worked with Children’s Centres to provide training to 45 Literacy Champion volunteers working with families in their local community to encourage parents and carers to make sharing books and talking with their children part of their daily lives, by offering practical, fun ideas to support children’s learning. 
  • Worked with Arriva North East bus company to distribute 7,000 free books on the number 27 Thorntree bus route, which completes 22,400 journeys per week
  • Worked with Better World Books to provide drop boxes in the local Morrisons stores, libraries and community centres to collect book donations and redistribute them into the community
  • Supported Middlesbrough’s schools with membership of National Literacy Trust’s network which facilitates local networks of good practice
  • Held inspirational reading events for 350 pupils in targeted schools to help them engage with books and become independent readers.

Notes to editors

- Visit to find out more about the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign with news, events and practical tips for how parents can support their children’s reading development.

- For any further information about the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign or to speak to a family or spokesperson please contact Claire Nevill on 0207 8206275 or at

- If you are a local organisation wanting to get involved then you can contact our Literacy Hub Manager, Allison Potter at

- For more information on Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall please contact the Clarence House press office on 0207 0245506 or visit:

Tags: Adults, Children, Early Years, Families, Young People

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.