HQ Location: 

Location of benefit: 
UK only (nationwide)

Beanstalk is a national charity that gives one-to-one literacy support to children in primary schools in the most deprived areas of England. Our vision is a nation of confident children who can read and grow up to lead successful lives. We aim to achieve this by working with primary schools to provide high quality literacy support through trained volunteer reading helpers who dedicate their time to give children a brighter future.

Beanstalk reading helpers work with children on a one-to-one basis, giving them their full attention and support to improve reading levels, increase overall confidence and inspire a lifelong love of reading.

Each Beanstalk reading helper works with three children and sees each child for two 30 minute sessions a week for a whole year.
Beanstalk reading helpers are trained to recognise what challenges these children face and work through them. With access to a library of books and games at their local branch they can tailor their sessions best to support the children they work with.
We have over 80 staff and more than 2,100 volunteers who carry out our work across England through 17 branches, with over 5000 children. Our aim is to reach out to 10,000 children by 2016.

Beanstalk in the News

September 2012: A Europe-wide masterplan to beat illiteracy today called for more volunteers to boost reading levels across the continent — and hailed the Evening Standard’s campaign as the model to follow.

The high-level report urges other European countries to launch similar campaigns to the Standard’s Get London Reading scheme.

It highlights the scandal of low reading rates and calls on governments to “wake up” to the crisis.

The EU report states: “The literacy crisis affects every country in Europe.

“Our societies need to face this hidden crisis and all need to act, and act together, to boost literacy levels and to reduce illiteracy.

Millions of Europeans of all ages continue to fail to reach the mark.” But schemes such as Get London Reading can have a real impact, it said.

According to the latest research one in five adults and one in five 15-year-olds in Europe lacks the reading skills needed to function in a modern society.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: “The literacy campaign was an incredible idea and the fact that it involves volunteers is inspiring.

“Today’s report will be read by people across the European Union — it will be distributed to millions.

“I was at the Olympics and Paralympics in London and I was so impressed by the work of the volunteers. Being able to involve volunteers would be a great way to help our work.

“Volunteering is essential in society. I want to see the Evening Standard campaign repeated across Europe.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove today said “it is no surprise” the volunteer initiative has been recognised “across the globe”.

Last year the Standard launched Get London Reading to help schools with children who struggle to read and hundreds of volunteers have signed up. This year the Government announced a £10 million fund inspired by our scheme under which teachers can apply for grants to pay for projects to help pupils who are falling behind, such as extra classes, one-on-one reading mentors and literacy tuition vouchers for parents to spend.

St Mary’s School in Battersea, which is at the heart of our campaign, has already seen a huge improvement in results since we sent in 25 people from the Volunteer Reading Help charity.

Government ministers have applauded the campaign. Mr Gove said today: “The Standard has run a fantastic campaign to get London reading. Getting children to read is fundamental to getting children to succeed. The Standard deserves the highest praise.”

Ms Vassiliou said that governments across Europe must be “ambitious” in the battle against illiteracy.

“People must not lose hope that the problem of illiteracy in Europe can be addressed,” she said. “We must keep going until we have 100 per cent literacy in Europe. It cannot be justified that in the 21st century we still have illiteracy in Europe.

“The Evening Standard campaign is a good model. It should be an inspiration for countries all over Europe.”

Source: Evening Standard Website