Helping children to read gives you a real buzz

Sharon Allen with Katie Wayland
Sharon Allen with Katie Wayland

A volunteer reading helper has said how rewarding giving up her time can be, as the campaign to improve literacy in the county continues.

The charity Beanstalk wants to recruit more people like Sharon Allen, who has volunteered at Grendon Primary School for the past four years.

She currently spends four hours a week helping four children, with half an hour spent with each child on a one-to-one basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Beanstalk, working alongside the Telegraph in our Get Northants Reading campaign, wants to double the number of reading volunteers in the county.

It cites lower-than-average literacy levels among primary school leavers here as particularly concerning – with literacy levels particularly low among the prison population as well as the unemployed.

Beanstalk has also appealed for individuals and organisations to help raise funds to support the campaign.

The Northampton Saints and Northants County Cricket Club are among those already to have pledged their support.

Mrs Allen said: “It’s a fantastic thing to be able to do. The best thing for me is to see children’s confidence grow in a short period of time.

“It’s something that I totally enjoy. I have a lot of support from the staff, there’s a lot of communication between us.”

The 54-year-old has encouraged others to get involved, adding: “It’s not a huge commitment time-wise, but for the little time you give you get so much back.

“Knowing how much the children enjoy it gives you a real buzz.”

“I would say to anybody to give it a go – you will absolutely love it.”

How you can help

To help raise money for Beanstalk’s Get Northants Reading campaign, call Liz Bennett on 020 77497972.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer reading helper, you can email

You can also call Christine Thomas on 01604 720969 or 0845 4500338.

More information is available at