Literacy charities Beanstalk and Reading Matters are merging, in a move said to enable the organisations “to reach more children and young people who need support with their reading”.
The five employees of Bradford-based Reading Matters will join the 120-strong workforce of Beanstalk in London, immediately, and there will be no redundancies as a result of the merger. Reading Matters' projects will be delivered under the Beanstalk brand from that date. Rachel Kelly, former c.e.o of Reading Matters, will join Beanstalk’s senior leadership team as director of local services.
Reading Matters primarily provides one-to-one support to children in secondary schools through its volunteer mentoring scheme and its accredited 'Reading Leaders' programme along with other literacy-enhancing services. Beanstalk offers one-to-one reading support to children across England in primary school and early years’ settings, such as pre-school and nurseries.
A spokesperson for Beanstalk told The Bookseller the merger had been under consideration for around nine months. They said: "As part of our 2020 Vision, Beanstalk has ambitious plans to be helping 30,000 children a year by 2020-2021..[and] extending our reach [beyond primary school age] to children aged between three and 13. Following the recent launch of our new early years programme Story Starters [a nursery reading project with Dolly Parton], this merger will allow Beanstalk to extend our reach into secondary school settings for the first time."
The geographical spread of Reading Matters will also help Beanstalk, based in the capital, extend its reach. The spokesperson said: "Reading Matters has a strong presence in Yorkshire and coming together will also enable us to focus on more growth in the North where we know there is huge need. As part of our continued growth plans we will seek to join forces with other like-minded organisations in the future."
The spokesperson acknowledged financial efficiency was a consideration in the merger but said that the central goal was enhanced scope, explaining: "The primary driver was to enable us to reach more children and have a much bigger impact. However, as charities we also want to be as effective and efficient as possible. Merging with Beanstalk will allow Reading Matters to benefit from economies of scale, ensuring that together we can achieve our ambitions to help more children and young people to read, grow and thrive."
Ginny Lunn, who became c.e.o of Beanstalk in 2015, said: “Both Beanstalk and Reading Matters want to help children and young people to become confident readers and the more reluctant or struggling readers we’re reaching, the better. By merging we will bring the expertise of two charities under the one Beanstalk brand and reach a far greater number of children."
Kelly said: “At Reading Matters, we are very proud of our impact and the difference we make to young people’s life chances. This merger with Beanstalk will strengthen our programmes and resources and enable us to support even more children and young people who are struggling with reading. We are very much looking forward to growing the volunteer base, developing our programmes and changing the lives of many more children and young people.”
Between 2016 and 2017, Reading Matters helped 6,497 children and young people while Beanstalk worked with 11,000 children over the same period.