News and blogs News Coram Beanstalk joins BBC’s “Make a Difference Happy Heads” Local Radio campaign to champion volunteering to support children’s mental health The pandemic has been a difficult experience for many but particularly for children and young people who have experienced disruption to their education and social activities. With a wealth of evidence showing that reading and enjoying books is strongly correlated with positive mental health and wellbeing in children, Coram Beanstalk is delighted to join BBC’s ‘Make a Difference Happy Heads’ campaign. Launching today (19 May) across BBC local radio stations, the campaign promotes opportunities to volunteer with organisations like Coram Beanstalk to support children and young people’s mental health and well-being as we emerge from this challenging period. Recent data published by BBC Children in Need found that more than two-thirds of children and young people (68%) aged 11-18 believe that young people’s mental health in general has got worse as a result of the pandemic, with one in three (34%) not feeling comfortable to ask for help if they needed it. Coram Beanstalk Chair and Reading Helper, Jill Pay, will be interviewed on BBC local radio to talk about Coram Beanstalk’s “reading for pleasure” approach which has been helping children to feel confident, successful and motivated for nearly fifty years, as well as sharing her experiences of volunteering directly with children. Listeners will also hear from Coram Beanstalk volunteer Christine Tooth who has been working online with children throughout the pandemic. Ginny Lunn, Managing Director of Coram Beanstalk, said: We are so delighted to be a partner in the BBC Make A Difference Happy Heads campaign. At Coram Beanstalk we know that spending one-to-one time with children, entirely focussed on helping them to develop a love of reading and tailored to their reading interests and ability can hugely benefit their confidence and general well-being. We need many more volunteers so that we can reach more children. I became a volunteer reading helper myself after my partner died and I also know how much it personally helped my own well-being.” Coram Beanstalk Reading Helper Christine Tooth said: Volunteering is like playing bat and ball; they give me a sense of purpose and well-being which I try to return to them. Seeing children grow in confidence with their reading and personal development is a wonderfully satisfying experience. If you would be interested in becoming a reading helper in a local school, please visit this page for more information. For more information on the BBC “Make a Difference Happy Heads” campaign, please visit: bbc.co.uk/makeadifference.