Award-winning scheme for children in care to celebrate 10th anniversary

Posted by er134 at Jun 11, 2013 02:46 PM |
Author Anne Fine and poet and playwright Lemn Sissay to speak at the University of Leicester for the Letterbox Club’s 10th Anniversary

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 June 2013

Photo opportunity: Launch of the Letterbox Club Joke Book at 1.50pm on Thursday, June 13th at Fraser Noble Hall, London Road, Leicester. Contact Rose Griffiths, email rnag1@le.ac.uk

A pioneering scheme which provides books and learning materials for foster children is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week.

Children’s author Anne Fine and acclaimed poet and playwright Lemn Sissay will speak at the Education and Children in Care Conference on Thursday, June 13 - which will mark the 10th year of the Letterbox Club.

The Letterbox Club was founded by Rose Griffiths of the University’s School of Education, and became established as a national programme in partnership with Booktrust in 2007.

The team send books and number games to children aged 7 to 13 in foster care around the country.

The scheme, which started as a pilot with 20 children in Leicester, now caters for nearly 6,000 foster children in 120 local authorities.

To celebrate this milestone, the University and Booktrust have invited teachers, social workers, foster carers and academics to the anniversary event.

Anne Fine, Lemn Sissay and leading education researcher Professor Sonia Jackson will speak on the day.

There will also be talks from Rose Griffiths, Viv Bird (Booktrust CEO), Marian Keen-Downs (Letterbox Club Programme Manager), and Kathleen Toner (deputy director of the Fostering Network Northern Ireland).

The event will be opened by Professor Sir Robert Burgess, University of Leicester Vice Chancellor - and Leicester city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby will give a presentation.

The day will feature the launch of the Letterbox 10th Anniversary Joke Book – featuring jokes, creative writing and illustrations by children from around the country, and contributions from several famous authors and illustrators.

It includes a foreword from acclaimed Leicester-born novelist Sue Townsend, the creator of the Adrian Mole books. Sue also holds a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship from the University of Leicester.

The book will be sent out to nearly 10,000 children in July, as well as to MPs and directors of children’s services around the country.

There will be a series of workshops in poetry, stories, science, maths, and children’s well-being throughout the day.

Letterbox founder Rose Griffiths, of the University’s School of Education, said: “We are really pleased to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Letterbox Club this year. When we first started, we never thought the scheme would be reaching as many children as it is today. Children and foster carers say that the scheme really makes a difference – so the more children we can reach the better.

“Everything we put in the packages was chosen because we thought it would entice children and their foster carers into wanting to use it – things which will make the children think ‘I’m really pleased I’ve got that’. The feeling of somebody paying attention to you is particularly important for children who have moved families.

“Everything that goes into the parcels is chosen very carefully. We get feedback from children themselves, from foster carers and from other experts about what works and what doesn’t. Over the past 10 years, we have become very good at choosing things children will like and which will help them do better in school and in life.”

Letterbox Club Programme Manager Marian Keen-Downs, of Booktrust, said: “The Letterbox Club gives children in care something unique – something just for them. Children in care may have very little that they actually own, and may be moving to different homes and addresses. For them to receive something addressed to them is very special, and gives them a greater sense of self esteem.”

The event will be held on Thursday, June 13 at the University of Leicester’s Fraser Noble Hall, University Road from 10.45am to 3.45pm.

Ends

Notes

Please contact:

Ms Rose Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Leicester’s School of Education, on 0116 229 7530 or at: rnag1@le.ac.uk

For more information, please visit: http://www.letterboxclub.org.uk/

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