Get Leeds Reading: Emmerdale actress takes on supporting role with literacy campaign

PLAYING HER PART: Emmerdale's Kelli Hollis joins the Get Reading Scheme with Laura Dong, seven, and reading helper Helen Hodgart.
PLAYING HER PART: Emmerdale's Kelli Hollis joins the Get Reading Scheme with Laura Dong, seven, and reading helper Helen Hodgart.
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Emmerdale actress Kelli Hollis, who plays illiterate mum Ali Spencer, has thrown her weight behind the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Get Leeds Reading campaign.

The TV star took time out from her hectic filming schedule with the Yorkshire soap to visit Hovingham Primary in Harehills.

While there the former Shameless star read to pupils as well as observing one of our campaign partner Beanstalk’s volunteer reading helpers working with a young student.

The Leeds soap celebrity has revealed how she posed as an adult with literacy problems while researching her storyline but was left frustrated by the lack of support.

Speaking after yesterday’s visit, she told the YEP: “I have had an absolutely fantastic afternoon here with these beautiful kids.

“The work that Beanstalk is doing is great – I know from my role and the research I’ve done how important it is to get reading at an early age.

“I hope as many people as possible back the campaign.”

Last year, more than 1,000 of the city’s 11-year-olds did not reach the expected reading standard.

The YEP has joined upwith children’s literacy charity Beanstalk – formerly Volunteer Reading Help – to save the city’s youngsters from the blight of illiteracy. Our campaign aims to recruit 40 YEP readers to become volunteer reading helpers with the charity, providing one-to-one support for pupils in Leeds primary schools who are struggling with reading.

So far 25 people have successfully completed an interview stage and are now being checked, trained or placed in schools and a further 19 applicants are awaiting interview.

Hovingham Primary, where students speak 29 different languages, has been supported by its helpers for several years.

Headteacher Janet Spence said: “Having Beanstalk volunteers here really makes a difference to our children.

“Having that one-to-one time and building up those relationships is also key and makes it very special for our pupils.”

* This week Beanstalk celebrated its 40th anniversary with a glittering event at Leeds Art Gallery attended by local dignitaries, headteachers and many of its volunteer reading helpers.


What are we asking?

We are looking for 40 YEP readers to become volunteers with our campaign partner Beanstalk, formerly called Volunteer Reading Help.

What is Beanstalk?

A charity providing one-to-one reading support in deprived primary schools.

Who can apply?

Any adult who is literate. All volunteers will be interviewed by Beanstalk and must pass a Criminal Records Bureau check. You will be fully trained by Beanstalk in how to make reading fun.

How much time will it take?

You need to be available for a 90-minute session twice a week between 9am and 3pm during term time for a year. You will read with three children. All volunteers will be partnered with schools near their home or office.

How do you volunteer?

Just go to our website at and click on the Get Leeds Reading link. Or go to or ring Beanstalk on 0113 815 1744 or 0845 450 0316

How do I donate cash to pay for the volunteers’ training?

Go to yorkshireevening and click on the Get Leeds Reading link. 
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