16 October 2018 

The Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Junab Ali, has visited St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School in Swindon to mark one year of Beanstalk working to support children with reading at the school while encouraging a lifelong love of books. 

One year ago Beanstalk volunteers began working in St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School - the Charity’s first partner school in Swindon. Today Beanstalk has reading helpers placed across 10 schools in Swindon supporting 30 children on a weekly, one-to-one basis with their reading. The scheme has also since expanded into Gloucestershire as more schools have joined the programme. 

Councillor Junab Ali was invited to St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School to meet the volunteers and the children they support and to see first-hand the impact they are having. During his visit, he was met by the Associate Head Teacher Ruth Lee and reading helpers Angela Fitzpatrick, Georgina Kivlin and Marla Carroll. He was then introduced to the Beanstalk children to talk about their books and to read them a story. He then gave a short talk in an assembly to the school followed by a Q&A about the role of Mayor.  

Councillor Junab Ali said: "I have dyslexia and I have sometimes found reading a struggle, but I strongly believe that with hard work, you can succeed in whatever you want from life. Beanstalk is looking for more reading helpers in Swindon. Currently, fewer men than women volunteer to become reading helpers, so I am joining with Beanstalk to call for more men to step forward and help give a child the gift of reading. Having seen how the children benefit from and enjoy their one to one reading sessions, I am urging you all to support Beanstalk."

Beanstalk reading helpers each spend 30 minutes working on a one-to-one basis with the children outside of the classroom.  The students choose the books they want to read and the sessions are relaxed, informal and fun.  

Amelia Shaw, Area Manager for Beanstalk South West, said: "The schools have welcomed Beanstalk reading helpers enthusiastically and have seen the difference the trained volunteers make with the children. With more schools asking to partner with Beanstalk we urgently need more volunteers to come forward so we can help even more children across Swindon and beyond."   

Beanstalk currently has 60 reading helpers across the South West of England and last year supported 225 children. 

If you would like to find more about becoming a Beanstalk reading helper or becoming a partner school, please click on the relevant links below.

Become a Beanstalk reading helper

Become a Beanstalk partner school