The close of 2023 saw The Very Group and Coram Beanstalk celebrate the end of a four-year charity partnership, during which the digital retailer raised £640,000 to fund one-on-one reading support for more than 40,000 children through our network of schools and volunteer reading partners.

Coram Beanstalk’s research shows 97% of schools receiving our support see an improvement in general attitude to learning, and that children who choose to read, feel better about themselves and do better in school and in life.

Digital innovation during the pandemic

The partnership began in late 2019, and Very had to get creative about fundraising initiatives when the pandemic arrived in spring 2020 as colleagues were no longer able to be together physically. During lockdowns, the retailer donated tech bundles to schools and launched a virtual bookshelf which saw colleagues record classic children’s stories for families to enjoy, as well as taking part in sunflower growing competitions, virtual pet shows and a walking challenge.

Customer-facing campaigns and activity

As the partnership progressed, Very launched customer-facing activity including a lockdown celebrity story telling social campaign and product collaborations such as Roald Dahl x Very pyjamas and bedding, with profits (at least 30% of purchase price) donated to Coram Beanstalk. There was also an exclusive range of kids' tracksuits featuring Gruffalo and Other Stories for World Book Day and a Back to School ‘you shop, we donate’ school uniform campaign, including a celebrity-fronted community pop up on London’s South Bank.

Back to the 80s with a star-studded charity ball

In December 2022, Very hosted a 1980s-themed charity ball which raised £180,000 for Coram Beanstalk. The event’s 800 guests were treated to performances from some of the era’s most iconic artists, including Go West, Paul Young, Tony Hadley and The Human League, and bid generously to win a selection of coveted prizes and experiences such as VIP backstage passes to gigs and festivals.

A Very big team effort

Throughout the partnership, Very colleagues’ energy, enthusiasm and commitment to supporting Coram Beanstalk contributed significantly to the total amount raised. There were sponsored events which saw team members walk on hot coals and dress up for four World Book Days, plus scavenger hunts, bake sales and hundreds of auctions, competitions and raffles. Others completed skydives, climbed mountains and took on walking and running challenges including the London Marathon.

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved during our partnership with Coram Beanstalk. The charity’s work is aligned with our own purpose of helping families get more out of life and we’re hopeful that the reading support we’ve enabled will make a lasting difference to children’s lives. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Very’s colleagues, customers, partners and suppliers who helped us reach our £640,000 total in many different big and small ways, and to the Beanstalk team for being brilliant partners over the last four years.

Lionel Desclée, Group CEO at The Very Group

We are immensely grateful to The Very Group for all their support over the past four years and achieving this fantastic total to transform the lives of thousands of children. Thanks to their generosity and commitment, we are able to help more children discover a love of reading and build skills for life - work that is as pressing as ever as children continue to cover from the pandemic. A huge thank you to The Very Group colleagues, customers and all who made this partnership possible, for helping us to create change that will last a lifetime.

Dr Carol Homden, CEO of Coram