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£2 million towards developing reading skills

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Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone yesterday announced awards worth over £2 million for sixteen projects in England which highlight the pleasures of reading for all sections of the community. Projects to boost literacy in Bradford, Lancashire, London and the West Midlands are among those to receive grants from a Reader Development Programme funded by the DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund.

Announcing the awards, Tessa Blackstone said, "I am delighted to announce awards to 16 innovative and outstanding projects. These projects encourage those involved to get the most out of reading, including people who have not yet used a public library service." The cash goes to the schemes which will best help people from all walks of life develop skills and enjoyment from reading, regardless of ability, age or background.

The successful projects include:

  • Over £170,000 for a A Touch More led by the National Library for the Blind with partners including Essex, Manchester and Bury Libraries and RNIB, to improve library services for visually impaired people.
  • nearly £90,000 for a Reading the City initiative in Bradford encouraging young people to read for pleasure and self improvement.
  • over £100,000 for the Indic Link aimed at raising the profile of Indic writing in English and Indic writing in three mother tongues.
  • over £240,000 for the Vital Link, led by Well Worth Reading and the National Literacy Trust, to help the 20 per cent of the adult population who have problems with reading and writing.

Commenting on the applications, the Minister continued, "The applications showed an impressive commitment to finding new ways of developing services to benefit readers from all backgrounds.

"Reading skills are essential both at the personal level and for society in general. For the individual they open the way to self improvement and enjoyment while broadening awareness of the world about us. For society they are the key to a healthier democracy and a competitive economy. Today's awards will help us to introduce more people to the pleasures and enjoyment reading can offer. "This is the second year of the Reader Development Programme and the fifth year of the highly successful funding partnership between the DCMS and the Wolfson Foundation. We are very grateful to Lord Wolfson of Marylebone and the Wolfson Foundation for their continued and valuable support." The Reader Development Programme awards represent £2 million of a £3 million funding stream from the Fund this year. The remaining million is offered by the Wolfson British History Programme which aims to promote an understanding of Britain's recent history through public libraries.

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