The Beanstalk Share and Learning Journey
24 October, 2017
My journey began as I stepped into London, a buzzing city with vibrant people and energized in every aspect. Shortly after our arrival, we met the team at our sister organization Beanstalk, a diverse group of people who are passionate about literacy. There are many similarities in our programmes and the concept is similar to what we have implemented in South Africa. Listening to each manager present their role and function in the organisation was an eye-opening experience, as they too are in the process of change to work more effectively and maintain a high-level of excellence in the workplace. This made me realise that as we operate in a developing country, it is harder to maintain operations in a non-profit environment, and essential that we work at our best at all times to continue the work that we do to nurture and grow the seeds of literacy we are planting.
Reading 321 Volunteer Training with Sheila Flagnan
During our time with Beanstalk, we got to attend Beanstalk’s Reading 321 volunteer training, presented by Sheila Flagnan. As I usually present volunteer training sessions at help2read, it was a real treat to observe the training through the eyes of a volunteer.
Sheila presented a typical help2read training session and for a moment I forgot that I was far from home. She outlined the role and expectations of the volunteers and answered the many questions asked by the new group of committed volunteers, all eager to start their volunteer journey. Sheila also shared her experience in terms of what works best for schools, the learner and volunteer, and spent significant time re-iterating the safety precautions that must be taken when working with a child.
At the end of the training, Sheila introduced the new volunteers to a resource box filled with books and games that are typically used in one-on-one reading sessions. It was a fun experience to engage with the resources and share new ideas to implement in our Reading and Holiday Club Programmes at home.
Reading Role Models
My highlight on this amazing journey was learning more about Beanstalk’s new programme, Reading Role Models. The objective of this programme is to understand how to be an effective reading role model to the younger learners at primary schools in their immediate area. Final year high school learners at Woolwich Polytechnic School are matched to younger learners and meet once a week for an hour to help each child make progress on the literacy path. Young people volunteer their service for three months and once they completed their journey, receive a reference to add to their tertiary level/employment application. The training is clear and direct to achieve the best results but also encourages a relaxed, engaging and fun atmosphere for learners to learn valuable life skills together. I am inspired by the willingness and sacrifice made by the young people, who offer their time and share their skills with learners in their immediate surrounding community.
This programme is similar to our Literacy Tutor Programme in Cape Town and Johannesburg, where we have extended the core programme that Beanstalk offers to include developing young adults in their language building, confidence and self-esteem. In our Literacy Tutor Programme, disadvantaged young adults, who are unemployed and don’t have the opportunity to enter tertiary education because of varying circumstances and lack of funds, are invited to participate in a one-year internship with help2read.
The aim of the programme is to equip young people with new skills, increasing their employability by the end of the programme. This is achieved while they assist learners to read by providing one-on-one reading support. help2read invests in these young adults throughout the year-long programme by providing them with help2read training, life skills development and intensive support.
Mentoring the Literacy Tutors is a challenging task, yet I cannot imagine my life without it as it simultaneously offers so many rewards in terms of personal satisfaction and sense of achievement. The Literacy Tutors are given the space and time to think through their own situations and circumstances in which they often feel they are trapped and are provided with the opportunity to rise above and beyond, to achieve, dream big and become their best they can be.
Melody Volmink – Literacy Tutor Relationship Coordinator
Registered Non-Profit 063-979 PBO 930027054 UK Charity Reg No. 1109567