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Local charity Read Easy is helping people who struggle with reading and writing

Cotswold > Entertainment > Literature

Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Monday, 2nd March 2020, 09:00

In 2013, England’s 16-24 year olds were ranked 22nd for literacy out of 24 developed countries by the OECD In 2013, England’s 16-24 year olds were ranked 22nd for literacy out of 24 developed countries by the OECD

In the UK alone, there are an estimated 2.4 million adults who either struggle with literacy or can’t read at all.

In the Cotswolds, over 3,000 people struggle with reading and writing – around 6% of the adult population.

Read Easy is a local charity that is attempting to reduce that number.

“Read Easy is the brainchild of Ginny Williams-Ellis, a Blockley resident who formed the charity 10 years ago after working in prisons and noticing how much of a problem there was with adult literacy,” said volunteer Eleanor Weil.

The charity offers anonymous one-to-one coaching, with trained volunteers, to adults who struggle with their reading across the UK, with around 31 affiliated groups and 900 volunteers in total.

The North Cotswolds group, which Eleanor has been a part of for around a year, covers the areas of Moreton-in-Marsh, Chipping Campden, Broadway, Shipston, Northleach and Winchcombe, and has around 12 volunteers in total.

Eleanor admits that whilst there is clearly an issue with illiteracy in the county, the group has struggled to find people willing to come forward and ask for help.

She explains the benefits of the coaching and how it has transformed people’s lives.

“It (literacy) is such a fundamental part of our everyday lives but without it people are unable to participate confidently in public life, with such things as voting, and it can also lead to accidents made at the workplace.

“In addition to that, the inability to read and understand basic health information is associated with higher mortality.

“At a recent fundraising dinner, Ginny read out a letter from one of the people who had been helped by Read Easy. He said it had totally changed his life and everything felt so much easier for him now and he felt that he could participate in public life.

“Most of the time we all take for granted our ability to read and write but imagining a world without it is almost impossible.”

Eleanor goes on to describe the process Read Easy takes with anyone who comes to them for help.

She said: “Nick Williams-Ellis, who is the North Cotswolds group co-ordinator, will arrange to have an initial meeting with them in a cafe.

“If they are happy to enrol on the scheme, there is a short reading assessment, after which we meet again a few weeks later, this time with their assigned reading coach, who will have previously attended Read Easy's one day Initial Training day.

“After the reader and coach have been paired up, they will arrange their own timetable to meet up twice a week, for half hour reading sessions using the Turning Page manuals.

“Typically, they will meet in a library or workplace where there is a degree of privacy but where there are always other adults present. Some new readers will race through the scheme to become proficient readers in as little as a year, but the majority of adults will take a couple of years to get there.”

Anyone who would like to get in touch with Read Easy should contact group leader John Seddon on 01386 700 099 or at northcotswolds@readeasy.org.uk

The group is also looking for more volunteers and Eleanor adds: “For anyone who would like to volunteer we are currently looking for a secretary to join our team – they will be in charge of taking minutes at all our future group meetings.

“We are also looking for a literacy specialist – someone who has experience in teaching, particularly literacy, or anyone who has previously worked in adult education would be ideal. If they would like to get in touch they should also contact John Seddon.”

For more information on Read Easy visit www.readeasy.org.uk

Other Images

A handwritten testimonial from a Read Easy graduate
A handwritten testimonial from a Read Easy graduate (continued)

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