Thursday 29 August 2013

Emily and the Beanstalk

Mini Me - Luckily I loved writing and reading

Things have suddenly got a lot more serious.

Previously, I wrote a blog post about activities I was doing to distract myself from waiting for news from publishers. These ranged from making bread to organising my tights into freezer bags. I also hinted at a new novel I was writing. If you're my agent reading this, I assure you, more writing has been produced than bread. Unfortunately both bread and writing have been of dubious quality.
As the unfamiliar limbo continued I began to think my world had become too small. All I did was write,  tea, wee, write. I needed to do more with my life.
Suddenly I found myself applying to become a volunteer for Beanstalk, a charity which works at improving literacy in primary schools. I say 'suddenly' which, not only is very bad writing according to Leonard Elmore's writing rules, but also a lie. I've been thinking of doing some charity work for a very long time.
Why literacy? Well, to be honest, I have my neighbours to thank for my choice. I can't stand them. They're dirty and inconsiderate, and if you happen to be my neighbour and reading this, then I obviously don't mean you, I mean the OTHER neighbours downstairs/upstairs. I have tried not to feel this way. But I do often dream of moving to a remote cave far away from human beings who spit with the enthusiasm of llamas.
And yet, I have to thank them. Because one day one of them left a note under our door, and I realised they could barely write. They had the literacy skills of a seven year old. And suddenly (sorry Leonard), I saw with a different perspective. How would my life be now if I couldn't read or write? What choices would I have? What would I be doing?
Personally, I believe kids should be coming out of schools knowing how to read without the help of volunteers. I mean, how can this country be called a first world country when free education is so bad? When some kids are going into school without shoes? That's certainly one reason why I might have stalled from volunteering before. I mean, it shouldn't be this bad! But the sad fact is that in some areas it can be. So instead of thinking too much about the 'shoulds', I thought I'd delve in and try to help. And I'm not trying to be a hero. I'm not even a particularly generous person, by any means. I obviously just want to minimise the risk of crap neighbours spreading across the nation.
I have yet to start the job. The charity might not even want me after reading this blog post, because they'll worry I won't be able to abide by the confidentiality rules! But of course I can and will. I won't say another word on the matter after this. I have done two training days, one entirely dedicated to child protection, which was heavy going, and made me realise how lucky I've been in my life. So, um, this post goes out to my parents for keeping me safe and putting so much effort into my education - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!


Lindsay said...

Sounds interesting and I hope you can tell us more - within all the rules of confidentiality of course. Like you, I believe literacy is hugely important. It helps general language and communication skills too. Many youngsters in Young Offenders Institutes are functionally illiterate which may have played some part in their offending behviour, so the more we can do in the early years the better! Good luck!

Shop Girl said...

Thank you Lindsay! I just think it must be so frustrating and demoralising if you can't read. When I was little I struggled with maths and I remember just staring blankly at an exam paper and thinking, 'what's the point of even trying?' A one to one would have been brilliant! So I guess that's what I'll be doing, giving one to ones for kids lacking confidence!

Anonymous said...

It's a lovely skill to share, and not just reading -- it's also a lesson in general communications; learning to pair up with a new adult and interact can be a real challenge for a shy or worried child.