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About the organisation

Doorstep Library Network

Doorstep Library Network runs Doorstep Libraries on estates in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Lambeth. Each project recruits volunteers to pay weekly visits to disadvantaged families to read stories to their children and bring a choice of children books to borrow. We aim to instil a love of reading in children and improve educational potential, as well as helping families become part of their wider community, and giving them access to local services and organisations that may be of use to them.

Application deadline: 

Do you remember a character from a childhood book as fondly as an old friend?

If you do, you’ll know the magic of being able to slip into another world as and when you need to, or how books can make your world a bigger, brighter place.

For bookworms especially, it’s hard to believe that anyone could see reading as anything other than empowering, or even just a pleasure. For the third of children from disadvantaged areas who leave primary school without being able to read well, often it’s nothing but a chore.

That’s why we like to turn up on the doorstep, with a backpack of books, two little stools, and a pair of volunteers who know that words take you places. Every week, come rain or shine, our volunteers bring the magic of reading directly into families’ homes every week, in low income areas across west London. We are now recruiting for our brand new team in Pimlico!

Role Aim: 

Enrich the lives of children

* Inspire children to experience the joy of stories and books, and to become better readers

* Empower their parents to take an active role in their children’s education

Build friendlier communities

* Break social barriers by interacting with and befriending diverse families from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.


Volunteers read stories to the youngest children, help budding readers to practice their reading, and read and discuss books with older ones (up to 11). They bring a selection of books for each child to borrow for the week.

Home Reading Volunteers seek to involve parents in the reading sessions to encourage them to take a more active role in their children’s education. In addition, volunteers befriend parents who often feel isolated and in need of additional support. Volunteers regularly pass on information about local activities and services which can support them in their parenting.

Volunteers work in pairs. They visit the same 6 to 8 families each week. Arriving to the project’s base, they select books for each of the children they visit. After the visits, all the volunteers return to base to put away books and complete record sheets which ensure continuity and enable an evaluation of the project’s impact.

Skills needed: 

- Fluency in English

- Non-judgemental and tolerant of a variety of lifestyles

- Excellent communication skills - listening to families and communicating efficiently with Team Leaders (including via text/emails/calls with Doorstep Library staff)

- Note taking - ability to accurately and regularly complete record sheets and write reports

- Organised - multi-tasking in a multi-faceted role comprising of much more than solely reading to children

- Time management - when managing your visits and attending the project

- Reliable - always attending a pre-agreed session and giving plenty of notice in advance of absences

- Physical fitness - able to walk between houses, up and down flights of stairs, carry backpacks, lift and carry boxes of books

- Friendly - to build good relationships with families, your volunteer partner and the rest of the team

- Confident - to lead the round or mentor a new volunteer

- Patience, persistence and flexibility - tailoring your approach to each family’s needs


You’ll be given details of the next Induction Evening when you first make an enquiry. The evening will provide an introduction to Doorstep Library, and give you a clearer idea of what being a Home Reading Volunteer entails. The session must be booked in advance.

Providing your application and interview is successful, you’ll be invited to 3-4 trial sessions on a project. If successful, we provide further training session which includes:

* - Engaging hard to reach families

* - Personal safety, child safeguarding, confidentiality and information sharing policies

* - Local service provision and signposting activities and services to families

Dawes Road Hub 20 Dawes Road London SW6 7EN
Time commitment: 
3-5 hours per week
Opening times: 
Varies by area. Hammersmith and Fulham: 3.45pm-6.30pm Westminster: 4.30pm-7.00pm (Mondays and Tuesdays)
Once you’ve registered interest in this volunteering role, we’ll send your name and UCL email address to the organisation for their records. You’ll also receive information about the next steps to take if you do wish to take things forward. The organisation has signed up to our code of standards, which includes a commitment to protecting your data. We won’t share your information with anyone unless you’ve given explicit consent to. We’ll also retain your details so we can follow up to see how you’re getting on with your volunteering and offer support if necessary. We take good care of your data – you can see full details here