Most of us take our ability to read for granted and are unaware that there are people around us who struggle with this most basic requirement for everyday life.
A Skills for Life survey of 16-65 year olds in 2011 found that 5% of adults in England could only recognise a few common words, and a further 2.1% were barely able to read simple health and safety notices at work. It has been shown that adults who struggle to read:
- develop coping strategies, but often struggle with even the most ordinary tasks such as food shopping or using public transport
- are five times more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to experience long-term unemployment
- struggle to help their children with learning
- have difficulties reading and understanding basic health information, which is associated with higher mortality
- are less likely to vote or take part in public and community life
- are unlikely to reach their potential
There are many reasons why people may not have learnt to read as children, but Read Easy has been set up to minimise the stress and embarrassment involved in learning to read as an adult, by providing confidential, one-to-one tuition at flexible times and in discreet and convenient places.
Read Easy was founded in 2010 by Ginny Williams-Ellis. As a literacy tutor at Dorchester Prison, Ginny was responsible for running the Shannon Trust‘s prisoner-to-prisoner reading programme and saw for herself how a confidential, one-to-one approach could encourage people to come forward for support and successfully learn to read.
It became clear that there was an urgent need for a similar scheme in the wider community. With the support of many local agencies, Read Easy Dorchester & Weymouth was launched, and in a very short time many people were coming forward and making remarkable progress.
This quickly led to interest from other areas. To meet this wider demand, Read Easy UK was established in 2011 to help volunteers to set up new Read Easy groups in other parts of the country. Within a year, three further groups had been formed and the organisation has continued to expand ever since.