Our team of support representatives will offer on-going support throughout your time as a Coram Beanstalk reading helper.

Michelle Searle - Support Services Manager

Hi I’m Michelle
I joined Coram Beanstalk permanently in January 2017 following a brief spell of employment here in 2015.
My background is mostly in Business Development in the Building Society/Banking sector, where I quickly realised how much I loved working with people.
Moving to Coram Beanstalk, was a great move for me as I wanted to give something back - the idea of helping vulnerable children really appealed to me, as did that of working with volunteers.
As someone who didn’t engage with reading particularly as a child, I completely and passionately understand the importance of reading and how 'reading for pleasure' is the key to supporting those children we work with to become readers. Personally I would have loved a Beanstalk reader and I am passionate about reaching as many children as we are able, to help transform their lives. 

Gillian Sherwood - Support Team Leader

Hello, I'm Gillian. My background is in heritage/arts education and I joined Coram Beanstalk in 2020 because I believe in the charity's values of putting children first and championing their wellbeing. I'm really proud of the fantastic work our reading helpers do 1-1 with children in school, helping them to discover the magic of stories. It's a privilege to hear directly from teachers and reading helpers about the incredible impact reading for pleasure has on children; how they grow in confidence and communication skills.

Reading can open a whole world of opportunity and I love that my job helps provide that chance for children.

Lucki Bring - Support representative

Hi my name is Lucki. I have worked for Coram Beanstalk since December 2019. During that time I have connected with many schools and reading helpers and love hearing how they and their readers are getting on. I have loved connecting with reading helpers on coffee mornings and online-training, signposting them to our volunteer portal and supporting them on their journey. Our reading helpers really understand and support 'reading for pleasure' and building confidence in their readers to enjoy and share stories, books and book chat. Our schools really appreciate what they do - our reading helpers really become part of the school community. I love that our reading helpers give up their valuable time to do something great - helping children explore books, gain confidence and have fun.

Francesca Nixon - Support Representative

Hello, I’m Francesca and I joined the Coram Beanstalk team in December 2022. I really do believe that reading is magic and can unleash a whole new world of possibilities for children. I have worked in education for many years and, throughout that time, have seen first-hand how precious time is in schools. That’s why I love being able to connect our Reading Helpers with schools and hearing all about the value and delight they bring to the children! I adore hearing stories of how Reading Helpers have brought out new confidence and enjoyment in pupils who previously were not interested in reading at all. As an avid reader myself, I love working in the world of books and being a part of that reading magic every day!

Jessica Buxton - Support Representative

Hello, I'm Jess. I have recently joined Coram Beanstalk in February 2023 after teaching across KS2 in primary schools and then working alongside children with additional needs. I have always had a love of reading myself and feel proud to be part of a charity that puts spreading the joy of reading to children at the heart of all it does. I support our amazing volunteer reading helpers and it is a privilege to hear their stories; I always smile when I think of the incredible impact they are having on children's lives across the country.

Michelle Whittaker - Support representative

support representative

Hi, my name is Michelle Whittaker and I have worked for Coram Beanstalk for just over five years. During that time, I have supported many schools and volunteers across the Birmingham, Black Country, Worcestershire and Shropshire area. As a previous parent reading helper and a Teaching and Support Assistant, our charity's commitment to helping children to appreciate the value of books/stories, develop their literacy skills and, spark their imagination, is something that I am truly passionate about. My day to day role, working alongside our great school partners and dedicated volunteers, makes my role both enjoyable and rewarding.

Naomi Bourne - Support representative

Hi, I’m Naomi. I have just joined Coram Beanstalk in April 2024. I have recently worked for other charities, but have previously been in education, as a special needs teaching assistant, for over 10 years. I’m really looking forward to being a part of the fantastic work that Coram Beanstalk does. As a huge reader myself, I’m passionate about children being able to develop their confidence and find the joy in reading, and can’t wait to support our volunteers and schools as part of my role.