Saturday, September 26, 1998 Published at 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Underwriting the future of education
Lloyd's workers are helping in Tower Hamlets schools
Although they might only be a few minutes' walk away from each other, the glass towers of the City of London and the backstreets of Tower Hamlets are worlds apart.
But in an initiative supporting the National Year of Reading the two worlds are meeting, as underwriters and brokers from Lloyd's of London help with reading in schools in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in Britain.
More than 300 staff from the global insurance market at Lloyd's are visiting one of 12 local schools involved at least once a fortnight, providing support for reading and writing.
Tower Hamlets has a high level of pupils from homes where English is not the first language, so one aim of the scheme is to give pupils extra adult support for reading and writing that parents are unable to provide.
The shift from the multi-million financial sector to the under-funded world of inner-city education is "something of an eye-opener" for the Lloyd's volunteers, says Sharon Merriman, community affairs manager at Lloyd's.
The Year of Reading will see other links between business and education.
Sainsbury's is also working with schools in the east end of London, running 'Reading in the Home' with the London Borough of Newham. This is seeking to raise levels of literacy among 5 to 8 year olds.
In Essex, the Ford Motor Company is providing a Year of Reading scheme, 'Learning Together', which offers lessons in basic literacy for employees and their children, aged between 7 and 11.
Staff at Boots in Nottingham are being given training in tutoring, so that they can help with reading and writing in the city's innter-city schools.
The company will also be providing the parents of nine-month-old babies in Nottinghamshire with books for babies and advice on using libraries and helping young children to read.