We are absolutely delighted to announce that Helen Denyer has joined the Reading Spots team as our new Head of Partnerships. Helen has extensive experience in education and international development, most recently taking significant responsibility for the development of the African Science Academy, a pre-university for gifted female African STEM students, established by the African Gifted Foundation.
Helen will be supporting us with a number of areas of Reading Spots’ fast developing work, including forming new relationships with UK and Ghanaian partners in different sectors, and extending the partnership with African Science Academy through the small community education grants programme we offer to pupils at the school. We know that we couldn’t have a better person to ensure the ongoing impact of the projects across Ghana, and shape the direction of the project in the months ahead. To email Helen, or contact any members of the team, click here.
Here is a little more info about Helen’s experience in the field:
Helen Denyer is half German, half English and grew up in both countries, as well as, spending a year at boarding school in Canada. During the year at school in Canada she was introduced to various local community volunteering opportunities and went on two service project trips to Kenya and India, which were an introduction to international development work. This has made her a firm believer in introducing students to concepts of development and how they can make a difference while they are still at school. Inspired by this experience Helen took a gap year between school and University – this was the first time she visited Ghana for 3 months to work with a grass-roots charity as a Maths teacher at a local primary school in Kasoa. During the year she also worked with charities in Madagascar, Nepal and Thailand, introducing her to small scale charities and the importance of having local voices heard in the development conversation.
After the year-out she started studying Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University. She returned to Ghana during her summer holidays in 2013 for 3 months with Global Giving UK as an Impact Assessor volunteer, during this trip she visited 8 partner projects across the country ranging from children’s homes, to women’s empowerment and clean water projects. During the weeks visit to each project, she interviewed and met staff members, trustees, beneficiaries, volunteers and community members. Through this experience she gained an all-encompassing view of some of the struggles small grass-roots charities face, but also the opportunities they provide to individuals in their community.
At University she was involved with various student led societies, including her College charity rep and President of the CUHELP society – supporting the charity she volunteered with in Nepal and coordinating volunteer recruitment and training. She also spoke in the debate on volunteering at the Cambridge International Development Conference, establishing that in some scenarios volunteering can cause more harm than good and that charities need to carefully select their volunteers and, vice versa, individuals keen to volunteer need to be selective of the project they work with.
Helen graduated from Cambridge in 2015 and that same year moved to Ghana and became the project manager with the African Gifted Foundation. In this role she helped set up the African Science Academy (ASA). ASA is an all-girls pre-University school based in Tema, Ghana, but for gifted students from across Africa, with a passion for Maths & Science. After a year of leading the team on the ground to get the school opened by August 2016, she went on to become the Finance and Admin Manager and worked in this role for two years, leading on none academic issues of the school.
During her last year in Ghana she was introduced to reading spots and helped liaise the partnership between reading spots and the African Science Academy. She was also able to visit some of the reading spots libraries across Ghana.
In pursuit of further education, Helen moved to London in August this year and has just started a Masters in Global Health and Development at University College London.