Canary Wharf workers rewarded by helping Tower Hamlets students

By Rob Virtue on February 12, 2014 7:49 AM |


Each week thousands of business people leave the comfort of their offices and head to a less polished part of Tower Hamlets.

They are returning to the classroom to help give youngsters a boost in their education through one of many partner programmes.

The initiative is orchestrated by the charity Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership and has been running quietly and successfully for 20 years. It now has more than 3,000 volunteers from Canary Wharf and the City.

Helen Sanson, director at the charity, says it's a massive help for the children.

"One or two children are matched with a business volunteer who coaches them on mental maths, for example, or number games, usually during lunchtime," said Helen.


"Sometimes the children are shy and need to build confidence or they don't have many adult role models in their lives.

"They may be falling behind in their studies and need a push, or perhaps they are doing well and need to be tested."

But it's not just the children that benefit. The nine-to-fiver also gains, even if it's just a break from the working day.

"It's a chance to get out of the office and link up with the community," said Helen.

"It also helps you cope with work stresses as your focussing your attention on a child instead.

"A lot of people say it's the highlight of their week, especially when they see children become more confident. Volunteers return year after year."


Mark Gardaner, of Credit Suisse, said: "Actually to go and visit the children in class and help make a small difference to their education is really rewarding.

"I enjoy being involved with the school - the teachers and staff are very supportive of the scheme."

Those workers often approach the charity direct, while companies allow representatives of THEBP to come in and showcase their ideas.

Now 68 of the 70 primary schools in the borough as well as all secondary schools in Tower Hamlets participate.

The big focus for this year is on teaching financial literacy, which comes into the national curriculum in September, and the charity is looking for people to teach maths.

"Companies say even graduates' numeracy skills are not up to scratch," said Helen. "We need to confront that at a young age."

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