How is it to work as an Area Manager? Could you describe your role? It’s a multi-faceted role with lots of dimensions. As the name suggests it’s about managing and developing my area. As the South West is such a new area, I have to build up local knowledge about the area and work on opportunities to engage with networks and partners here. I feel a large part of the role is about developing and maintaining strong internal and external relationships. I line manage the team leader for the South West and work closely with the service members of staff here and try to give them support to do the best job they can, I feel I represent them when I’m working with members of the Senior leadership teams. It’s really important to have close links with staff in the Central office and to give them information and knowledge about the area. At the end of the day, we are about helping children in settings through our amazing reading helpers so it’s vital to know and understand the needs of these groups too. What kind of projects do you work on? I’m the area manager champion for our core programme, our Reading 321 volunteering opportunity and Story starters, a new national trial. It’s about setting up systems and ensuring compliance with related systems across the organisation in order to deliver a consistent high quality Beanstalk service. I’ve been with Beanstalk since 2005, so I’ve been involved in lots of different projects over the time! What does your average day entail? There is no average day. I manage a large rural area and tend to have to travel distances to go to visit people, when I’m out in a patch those are generally busy meeting days. I might see the reading helpers at a termly meeting, and go and speak to some Head teachers, and perhaps have a discussion with a potential donor. When I’m not out and about I’m generally working from my kitchen table! I’ll be doing planning, reporting and researching and catching up with staff and on the inevitable emails. Why did you get into charity work? I come from a teaching background, and had been a VSO volunteer in Nepal, when I came back to find a job in the UK I saw an advert for Volunteer Reading Help; I was just amazed to learn how many children didn’t reach the expected reading age here in my own back yard. I’ve been driven by the cause and knowledge that we are helping some children to acquire this vital life skill. What skills do you need? Management skills, but most importantly I think it’s essential to be adaptable, ready to learn and to be passionate about the cause. As a team of area managers, we all bring slightly different skills to the table, which is the wonderful thing about being part of a team. What is the most rewarding part of your job? Knowing that we’re making a difference to children’s lives!