Press Releases

National Friendly urges Bristol’s digital innovators to come to aid of city’s literacy charity Ablaze


National Friendly, the Bristol-based insurer, has stepped in to support city literacy and schools charity Ablaze with a new fundraising campaign.

Under the initiative, the mutual insurer – a long-term partner of Ablaze – will use its influence to urge Bristol firms to contribute to the charity as well as continuing to fund it itself. 

It is also calling on the city’s vibrant digital sector to lead through innovation by coming up with new solutions to address critical issues linked to a significant revenue shortfall as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ablaze, which exists to tackle inequality of opportunity for young people in Bristol and across the West of England, has been hit hard – along with many small charities this year – by the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Under current restrictions it cannot operate its primary Reading Buddy programme, which is designed to ensure all children leaving primary school are functionally literate by pairing volunteers from businesses with pupils who need extra support.

The volunteers visit the school weekly for 30 minutes during the academic year.

Freezing the programme means vulnerable primary school children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more at risk of being left behind in literary and reading skills than ever.

National Friendly has worked closely with Ablaze on its Reading Buddy programme at Cabot Primary School in St Pauls.

Ablaze CEO Sally Melvin, pictured, said: “National Friendly is supporting Ablaze Bristol through our own local fundraising, but alone this will not be enough.

“We need to encourage local businesses, the corporate sector and corporate donors to step forward during this vital time, as well as encourage the general public and all parents to donate to this worthy cause.”

National Friendly PR and corporate partnerships executive Kurtis Reece, pictured, points out that the education of pupils in primary schools is now under serious pressure, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Poverty of opportunity will be more extreme post Covid-19 and mentoring will be vital in tackling this, which is why we are supporting Ablaze with its intervention to create an ever lasting impact on children’s development.” 

In partnership with the schools that it supports, Ablaze and National Friendly are working hard to develop new ways of delivering learning and support to both teachers and parents using both online and digital solutions.

Sally Melvin added: “We believe that there is an opportunity to tap into and engage with the creative and digital sectors in Bristol, to make connections and to develop a network of businesses that could support the development of our resources and programmes in schools.

“We believe the digital sector in Bristol could emerge to become future partners for Ablaze, something that could also help their own business models to diversify, as they innovate and spearhead new ways of learning and supporting primary education.”

Kurtis said that with normal fundraising activities suspended, the flow of funds into the charitable sector had been hit hard.

“In particular, in the case of Ablaze and its work in schools. Our aim is to find a safe and effective way to deliver its reading programmes in schools remotely. For the time being, volunteers can no longer carry out this vital activity face to face.

“Ablaze receives no statutory or government funding to support its core budget. It solely relies upon the support from schools, businesses and donations.”

For more information, visit or follow #RaiseForAblaze

National Friendly is a trading name of National Deposit Friendly Society Limited. Registered office: 11-12 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4NT. Registered in England and Wales no. 369F. National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Our Financial Services Register number is 110008. You can check this at: National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Ombudsman Service.