1 June 2018

Over 7,000 hours are volunteered every week to help children become confident and able readers across primary schools and early years settings in England, according to children’s reading charity Beanstalk.  This Volunteers' Week Beanstalk is highlighting the valuable contribution its reading helpers make to support struggling readers and the hours volunteered which are crucial to delivering the charity’s reading programmes and reaching more children across England.

The organisation trains and supports reading helpers to provide one-to-one support to children aged 3 to 13 in a variety of ways, turning them into confident, passionate and able readers. In the last school year the charity helped over 11,000 children across England, in over 1,400 schools, with the help of over 3,000 reading helpers, ensuring children have the skills and confidence to reach their true potential.

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk, says: “Reading is a fundamental skill in early education and, once grasped, provides a springboard to new opportunities and possibilities. By working with children who have either fallen behind with their reading, lack confidence, or struggle with their fluency or comprehension, our reading helpers can make a significant difference to their future prospects. This Volunteers' Week we want to highlight the valuable hours spent by our trained reading helpers who help deliver Beanstalk’s reading programmes in a range of educational settings across England. The work our reading helpers do makes a meaningful difference to children across the country – thank you to all our volunteers and supporters!”   

Each Beanstalk volunteer is trained to recognise what challenges each child faces and tailors their sessions to support each child. Clare has been a Beanstalk 321 volunteer for three years and visits a local primary school twice a week supporting three children for 30 minutes:

“I was a nurse a very long time ago and then a Teaching Assistant in a special school and mainstream schools. I became a volunteer after searching online for ways of helping disadvantaged children. The best parts are laughing with the children and the breakthrough moments. If you look for the small changes; not just with reading, but with eye contact, concentration, a smile, a moment of relaxation, there are breakthrough moments every week. Knowing that the children look forward to me going in motivates me to stay, as does the caring atmosphere in school, particularly from the Inclusion Team. To anyone considering volunteering I would encourage it. There is training and support. Remember, it's all about the child, follow their interests.”