Local news anchor Andrew Barnes has chosen to throw his weight behind non-profit social enterprise Relate Bracelets by becoming their latest brand ambassador.

Broadcast journalist Barnes has been the lead anchor on eNCA’s News Day since the show launched in 2008.

“While it is an honour to serve as an ambassador for Relate Bracelets, it is also a responsibility, an opportunity to help highlight the plight of others while encouraging South Africans to seize their opportunity to help those less fortunate than themselves,” says Barnes.

Barnes explains that he has chosen to support Relate Bracelets as he believes in the  non-profit social enterprise’s  ethos.

“There is a sustainable business model that is creating jobs, while the causes supported range from education and community empowerment to conservation,” Barnes added.

Barnes, who says he effectively reads for a living and therefore has a particularly strong interest in literacy, finds it heart-breaking to know that so many South Africans cannot read.

“Literacy is one of our society’s biggest challenges, with millions of our fellow South Africans never having spent a day in a classroom. The lack of literacy speaks to poverty, joblessness and crime,” he says.

“Nelson Mandela realised the power that education would have in transforming South Africa and he continues to inspire every effort to get this country reading.”

One cause which receives support from Relate Bracelets is the Shine Centre, which offers language and literacy support programmes in 24 Primary Schools in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu – Natal.

“Children really can’t start reading early enough.  The love affair with books is one of the greatest a person will ever have.  Introduce them to books at the earliest age.  Read to them at bedtime.  Read together.  There is magic to be found in books.  Encourage them to find it,” Barnes emphasises.

“If you aren’t in a position to buy books, join your local library.  Way too many children spend way too much time sitting in front of the TV.  I think we’re faced with a generational challenge to rediscover reading.  We have to ignite this generation’s imagination.  The best way to do that, I believe, is through the power of reading.”

Barnes says he finds the work that non-profit enterprises like Relate Bracelets are doing vitally important in a country where credit downgrades, a dysfunctional parliament, increased political animosity and almost daily service delivery protests are dominating the headlines.

“It’s easy to see the negative and lose sight of all the positive things that are happening in South Africa every day. It’s heartening that there are organisations like Relate which aren’t sitting back.  They’re encouraging us all to get involved, to make a difference, however small,” Barnes says.

Chief Executive Officer of Relate Bracelets Neil Robinson said Barnes is a welcome addition to the Relate team, with his interests in promoting literacy and his in-depth awareness of South African social issues.

Relate Bracelets has raised more than R23 million for charities and social upliftment from selling 1.5 million bracelets in just four years, with R8 million of that being raised in just the last year.

To support the Shine Centre with Relate bracelets visit our online shop.