Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Costa to extend literacy skills pilot in UK

April 2015

Whitbread-owned Costa is to extend its partnership with Save The Children and its Born to Read programme.

The coffee chain hooked up with the children’s charity last year, operating the literacy skills pilot programme in some schools in Manchester and London.

This year, with Costa’s support, Save the Children will be able to help 306 primary school-aged children improve their literacy skills by July 2015 through the support of 102 volunteers. Volunteers commit to 30 minutes of their time each week to support children in learning to read.

The 30 minutes aren’t just about reading, Sandy Gourlay, Costa’s corporate responsibility manager told Ethical Performance. “It’s also about coaching skills, so its playing games, reading instruction and such like. The aim is to tackle urban poverty,” he said.

The school children are aged 7-10. Gourlay commented that research shows that if children aren’t reading well by the time they reach high school, then their life choices are limited.

Involvement in the programme is open to all employees, though robustly managed by Save The Children. Two of the current volunteers are baristas and one is a store manager. Volunteering is during peak times – school hours – so store support is vital, highlighted Gourlay. He pointed out that as the chain is built on a shift pattern business model, it chimes with the programme’s need for flexibility.

The initiative is giving employees a sense of pride, he added. At a recent meeting, 10% of store managers signed up to getting involved as the programme rolls out nationally.

The origins for the partnership grew out of the Costa Foundation’s work with the charity where it supports education projects in 46 schools across nine countries. “We wanted to look at how Costa could mirror this commitment in its local UK communities,” said Gourlay.

The opportunity arose when Save The Children’s Born to Read scheme launched last year: “Given Costa’s association with the Costa Book Awards, the programme was a natural fit.”

UK & NI Ireland | CSR


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