Charity Profile: Beanstalk

Reading is a fundamental skill that most of us think nothing about. However, this seemingly basic ability is not something that everyone is able to enjoy. Kent-based charity Beanstalk plans to change that, and ensure that all primary aged children are given the chance to learn to read.


What is it that Beanstalk does, and why is it so important?

Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that transforms children’s life chances by supporting volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. By bringing the community together to help in local schools, we inspire children to find the joy in reading.

The importance of our work is clear when the statistics are seen: 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties with basic literacy; shockingly 63,000 students left primary school last year unable to read to the expected level.

The good news is that everyone can make a real difference by becoming a Beanstalk trained Reading Helper. After just three terms of support, 93% of Beanstalk supported children improve their reading ability.

What about volunteers? How important are they to Beanstalk, and what sort of things do they do?

Beanstalk is at its heart a voluntary organisation, with 2,900 volunteers across England. Most of our volunteers are Reading Helpers. They spend 90 minutes, twice a week in 1-to-1 sessions with children, bringing the joy into reading by reading fun books together, chatting and playing games. Very importantly, Beanstalk sessions are meant to be very different from normal school and are relaxed, informal and fun.

We currently need Reading Helpers across Kent with a particular call for Volunteers in Medway. Readers are encouraged to call 01622 662 026 or visit for more information or to apply.

How many children have you helped so far?

In the last school year we helped approximately 10,000 children across England in almost 1,400 schools through the help of over 2,900 Reading Helpers.

How are you planning to expand?

In Kent alone, we are planning to expand from supporting 1,000 children to 1,400 by July 2016. We are also taking on exciting new projects such as Get Medway Learning, in which we’ve partnered with Medway Council to provide 95 reading helpers across the area and help to prevent some of the problems with literacy at the earliest stages.

How do you raise money, and do you have any upcoming events that our readers can join in with? 

We raise funds at national level and we do a lot of local fundraising in the communities that we help in. These fundraising events are run voluntarily by caring members of the community and can take many shapes and forms.

If you would like to donate or to do some fundraising, please see 

Beanstalk believes in its integrity as a voluntary based local charity that does not push people into direct debits with door-to-door sales or street salesmen.

How does the money raised help you?

The money raised enables us to support our volunteers to provide a high-quality and professional service. All of our volunteers are given full training before they begin, have the help of a Volunteer Support Worker throughout their service, as well as ongoing training.

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