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Boots Opticians Takes Action to Boost Literacy

01 December 2015
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Boots Opticians is taking important action to help tackle the literacy challenge in the UK.

Boots Opticians was a lead signatory on the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016, which was launched in November 2015 by the National Literacy Forum, a coalition led by the National Literacy Trust and supported by KPMG. The Pledge underlines the commitment of the UK business community to raise literacy levels by taking action in three specific areas: in their workforce, in their local area and at a national level.

As low literacy continues to undermine the UK’s economic competitiveness, tackling it has never been more important to business. National Literacy Forum partner KPMG estimates that a failure to master basic literacy skills costs the taxpayer up to £2.5 billion1 every year.

Ben Fletcher, Managing Director of Boots Opticians, comments: “We strongly believe that the optical profession has a big role to play in supporting young people in the UK with their education and literacy - especially those in deprived areas. 80 per cent of a child’s learning occurs through sight2 and an undiagnosed vision problem can affect a child’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time and delay reading development. Signing the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge made perfect sense, and our missions are closely aligned – we look forward to taking a collaborative approach with National Literacy Trust and other likeminded businesses to support the enjoyment of children’s education and literacy.”

To fulfil the Pledge and help to improve literacy across the UK, Boots Opticians is working to break the cycle of illiteracy for disadvantaged children through clear action: by volunteering in schools, supporting community programmes and fundraising, as well as campaigning for real changes in policy. It is mobilising its colleagues who are in over 600 community locations across the UK to make real differences to children’s lives. Each Boots Opticians colleague has been given two volunteering days, a total of 90,000 hours, as part of its partnership with the National Literacy Trust. Some of this time is being used for the Schools Challenge, which launched in September and runs for this academic year. This involves Boots Opticians colleagues visiting primary schools in the area to encourage children to read more for enjoyment and emphasise the importance of having regular eye checks.

Low literacy is frequently intergenerational and in some disadvantaged areas of the UK up to 35 percent of the adult population lack the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old. This compromises employability, health, confidence and happiness and creates barriers to social mobility. The work of Boots Opticians as part of the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016 also supports the goals of other high profile literacy campaigns including Read On. Get On. and the Fair Education Alliance.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said: “Business has a crucial role to play in helping to raise literacy levels across the country, increasing our economic competiveness and creating a fairer society. We are delighted that Boots Opticians is taking important action to help ensure that every young person is equipped with the literacy skills they need for employment and life.”

To find out more about the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016, visit: www.literacytrust.org.uk/businessplegde

 

ENDS

 

1    Every Child A Chance Trust (2009) The Long Term Costs of Literacy Difficulties, 2nd ed. Available at: http://readingrecovery.org/images/pdfs/Reading_Recovery/Research_and_Evaluation/long_term_costs_of_literacy_difficulties_2nd_edition_2009.pdf

2    http://www.uhc.com/live/uhc_com/Assets/Documents/VisionNewsletter.pdf

For more information, please contact Bethan Simmons at the Boots Opticians press office on 0115 959 1188 or Bethan.simmons@boots.co.uk

 

About Boots Opticians

Boots Opticians is one of the leading opticians in the UK with around 637* practices, of which 177* operate on a franchise basis. Around 30% of practices are located in Boots stores with the balance being standalone optical practices.

In August 2013, Boots Opticians became the first multiple optician in the UK to include digital retinal photography as a standard element of its eye test for customers of all ages.

De Rigo, a world leader in the design, production and distribution of high-end eyewear and sunwear, owns a 42% minority interest in Boots Opticians which it obtained in 2009 after Boots Opticians merged with Dollond & Aitchison to create the second largest optical chain in the UK.

*As at 31 August 2015 excluding equity method investments.

 

About the National Literacy Trust

We are a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools.

Visit www.literacytrust.org.uk to find out more, donate or sign up for a free email newsletter. You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Phone us on 020 7587 1842 or email contact@literacytrust.org.uk

The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944. Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.

 

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Boots UK is the largest pharmacy-led health and beauty chain in the UK and its purpose is to champion everyone’s right to feel good. With 2,336* stores and a team of around 52,000* colleagues, of which approximately 6,600* are registered pharmacists, the Boots brand has been at the heart of local communities across the UK since 1849. Boots UK is committed to providing exceptional customer and patient care and being the first choice for pharmacy, beauty, healthcare and wellness, alongside offering its innovative portfolio of product brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle, Sleek MakeUP and YourGoodSkin.

Boots UK is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance (Nasdaq: WBA) – a global leader in retail pharmacy, impacting millions of lives every day through dispensing medicines, and providing accessible, high-quality care. More company information is available at boots-uk.com.

*As of Aug. 31, 2020