8th December

National literacy charity Beanstalk is helping to overcome the loneliness crises in over 60's by providing people with a volunteering opportunity that will keep them active in their local community.

A report published this week by Age UK [source] highlights that almost a million people aged over 60 feel lonelier at Christmas. In addition, the British Red Cross [source] says nearly 20% of people describe being always or often lonely.

Beanstalk – the children’s literacy charity – provides people the opportunity to get involved with their local community by providing one-to-one literacy support to a struggling child in a local primary school. Together they read, talk and play as a way of transforming the child’s reading ability and confidence.

But volunteers in the Beanstalk community find that it is not just the children they support who benefit from volunteering:

  • 80% think that volunteering with Beanstalk makes them physical and mentally active.
  • 85% think that volunteering with Beanstalk makes them feel valued.
  • 90% would recommend joining to a friend.

Colin Martin a Beanstalk reading helper, said:

  • “I first decided I wanted to become a Beanstalk reading helper after feeling the need to be doing something that would keep me active. I remember seeing a report on the news about the number of 16-year olds that were not meeting expected reading standards. Then I saw a notice in a local directory about becoming a Beanstalk reading helper and I thought it would be a great thing for me to do.”
  • “The children are fantastic and really enjoy coming to read with me each session. One of the children I read with does not speak at all, so I read to him, and his face just lights up. In fact when our sessions came to a stop in order for me to take on new children, he missed it so much I offered to come in for an extra session every week, so we now continue the reading sessions because he gets so much out of them.”

Thelma Sheriff, a fellow Beanstalk reading helper, said:

  • “What’s been lovely is that we have a real community among the reading helpers and we frequently meet up socially too, so it’s great all-round.”

If you know someone who might benefit from hearing more about Beanstalk volunteering opportunities, share and visit the website www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087

- Ends -

Notes to the editor:

  1. Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. Beanstalk's vision is that all children and young people have the essential skills they need to grow up and lead successful lives. To find out how to volunteer, visit beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.
  2. Each Beanstalk reading helper works with three children and sees each child for two 30 minute sessions a week, during term-time, for a whole year. Together, they read, play and talk. With Beanstalk's support the child's approach to learning and enjoying reading is often transformed.
  3. In the last academic year Beanstalk supported over 10,000 children.
  4. Beanstalk works in areas of deprivation across England in the North, Midlands, Somerset, Greater London and Kent & Medway.
  5. Beanstalk was founded in 1973 as Volunteer Reading Help by Susan Belgrave MBE, Beanstalk’s President. 
  6. Sources for statistics are available on request.
  7. For press enquiries contact Tom Rippon at [email protected] on 020 7729 4087