NYR in Knowsley: Using the Year of Reading to bring other services and agencies to the table

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Senior support and cross authority representation

Reading and the NYR is actively supported by our CEO, Elected Members or authority Directors. Knowsley has a Steering Group which is made up of cross authority representatives including the Cultural Sector, Children and Family Services, the PCT and Elected Members. The first meeting was held in January to launch NYR, and a commitment was made by that group to meet quarterly to monitor the progress. The Executive Director of Children and Family Services, Damian Allen, is a strong advocate, as is our ‘home’ Directorate as a whole and the two elected members who hold the Cabinet portfolios for Leisure and Culture, Councillor Eddie Connor and Children and Family Services, Graham Wright have shown strong support.

Some of the ideas generated at the launch on the 30th January were:

Implementing the agenda

To “make these happen” and more a Working Group has been established which again has cross authority representation. It meets every 4 – 6 weeks facilitated by a member of Children’s and Family Services Leadership Team and attended by the Head of Libraries and Councillor Connor, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Community and Culture. This has certainly given National Year of Reading a high profile in the Borough and has kept it on the Council’s agenda.

Health and reading…

All the services involved are organising their own activities and events e.g. Step into Health – a Primary Care Trust walking initiative which is going to promote reading as part of its healthy living agenda. The Working Group provides great networking opportunities and has enhanced partnership working which should be sustainable. It has also provided the opportunity to jointly promote and publicise events and activities.

Family focussed activities…

The focus event for the authority is “Around Knowsley in 80 Reads”. This will take place on October 1st to launch a month of Family focused activities, with an emphasis on reading as fun and family friendly. Four poets have been engaged to tour 80 venues in 1 day to actively engage people, provide performance poetry events, and promote reading. Venues include Asda, the Council Cabinet meeting, a tea dance, an Unemployed Centre and a Centre for the visually impaired as well as a range of schools and Children’s Centres. Funding has been made available for this event which is due to the support received from the Directorate of Children’s and Family Services.

Building and developing new partnerships…

Certainly there are services that haven’t engaged with NYR yet and we do need to involve the Third Sector and local businesses. We will be evaluating the year and hopefully sustain and extend the commitment shown. Given the support that has been forthcoming so far, developing a cross authority strategy to reading and literacy provision proposed by the Reading Agency as a legacy for the year, will be on our agenda. NYR has provided exactly the right ‘hook’ to bring alive the agenda, and attract other services and agencies to the table to work in partnership.

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