Read Easy Exeter

Jolene Warren (Coordinator)

Tel: 07486 858 012

Email: exetercoordinator@readeasy.org.uk

About our group:

Read Easy Exeter was set up in February 2018. By the summer of 2018 we had 6 Coach/Reader combinations and now, just about two years after our launch, we have gone past our target of 20. The aim for each Reader and Coach is to meet twice a week for 30 minutes,roughly an hour a week and this is in a venue within the local community. Progress is excellent because of the quality of the course material (Turning Pages, produced by the Shannon Trust) and because of the one-to-one relationship between Coach and Reader. Our Coaches find the challenge very rewarding and they are really helping to change lives.

In addition to Reading Coaches, we welcome team members who can help make contacts with local communities in Exeter – people who are happy to network and to pass on what we do. Schools, Children’s groups, other charities and community groups are those most likely to come across adults who want help with their reading. Referrals most often come from people close to the Reader, those who have discovered what Read Easy has to offer and the opportunity it represents. Spreading the word is really important, so do get in touch if you want to help with this.

@Read_Easy_Exe

 

Group News:

Read Easy Exeter on BBC Radio Devon

Listen to our Team Leader Paul speak to BBC Radio Devon here via our Facebook page.

 

Coaches

This summer has challenged REUK and all of us in Exeter to find ways of continuing to maintain contact between Readers and Coaches. Zoom, WhatsApp and Smartphones have proved effective. Our coaches have been inventive and resourceful and have responded really well to the challenge. This followed a very well-attended Zoom coach meeting in early May, and since then we have tried to give each active coach support and guidance in the use of phones, tablets or laptops. Another Zoom meeting is now being planned to share the varied success stories of our eight pairs working remotely. We continue to generate coach applications and have a pool of prospective coaches who will be in the vanguard of the new on-line training proposed by REUK. This will be on-line in two senses in that it will be delivered remotely but will, for the first time, contain guidance on how to use the Shannon Trust material in remote contexts

Team

We have had some changes in our Team over the summer with Andrea Wilson’s return to her northern roots, after doing a superb job, utilising her Comms expertise, for our local NHS. We benefitted hugely from her insights and generous support. We have welcomed onto the Team, Nicholas Gay as our Treasurer and Ana Pryce as our Safeguarding Champion and Coordinator Support. In addition I have asked Alexa Lachlan to move from joint Coordinator and to come on the Team, again giving our Coordinator Jolene support, but also as our Data Protection Champion. Wendy Cranston, our Literacy Specialist, will now also be using her vast expertise to look after our readers who have moved through the course and are contemplating the Moving Ahead option. She will become our Moving Ahead Coordinator. My interview with BBC Radio Devon in June (listen here) was a good opportunity to get some local coverage and to advertise the Team roles which remain unfilled … most particularly in Publicity and Fund-raising. I think I speak for all the Team in conveying that our regular monthly Zoom meetings over the summer have been surprisingly efficient and productive but we are beginning to look forward to meeting each other in person.

Plans

We have a meeting with the Governor of HM Prison Exeter to develop our links with the reading programme within the prison and with the Probation Service supporting Exeter prisoners as they leave. Our plans to explore the reading needs around Exmouth, which had started so well in March with presentations to the Exmouth and Budleigh Catholic Parish, will continue, as and when we can resume, and the excellent bookmarks will again be the means of promoting our presence in the area. Of course, in all respects, the direction we have taken in lockdown will prove to be a brilliant way of extending what we can do within our region. Remote Coaching will mean that we can reach many more readers and, with care, can continue to maintain the key one-to-one relationship which is integral to our success. For the time-being we have the immediate prospect of stepping-in to help remotely some coaches from Read Easy Barnstaple and of being able to offer an effective package to local companies with a workforce containing an above average proportion of non-readers.

If you have an old tablet or laptop at home doing nothing do let us know. It could be just what a new reader needs. Equally if you know someone who might like to join our team please don’t hesitate to suggest it to them.

September 8th is International Literacy Day and REUK is supporting the participation of individual Read Easy groups in the promotion of the day. Our Press Release for this is below.

Finally a huge thank you to all our supporters and sponsors, several very generous individuals, as well as Sovereign and the Northcott Devon Foundation.

 

International Literacy Day

Local charity Read Easy Exeter are asking people to help transform a life this International Literacy Day – September 8th, by supporting adults in the community who struggle to read.

The charity offers free and confidential one-to-one reading coaching to adults of all ages, from trained volunteers. In normal circumstances, the readers and their coaches meet twice a week for just half an hour at a time to work through a series of phonics-based reading manuals, aimed specifically at adults. Since the Coronavirus pandemic however, meeting in person has not been possible, so many reading pairs have been using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime or just phones in order to continue with their sessions.

There are 3 ways local people are being asked to support their group:

1: Donate money – It costs just £10 to buy each of the five reading manuals that readers work through to learn to read, and only £30 to train a volunteer reading coach.

2: Donate your time – Volunteer to become a reading coach, or a member of the group management team if you would prefer to help in another way

3: Spread the word – Encourage adults you know who struggle to read to come forward and ask us for help – we really can help them change their life for the better!

 

There are at least five thousand adults in and around Exeter who either cannot read at all or can barely read. For them, everyday tasks such as booking a doctor’s appointment, reading road signs or doing the food shopping can be incredibly challenging. Life during lockdown has also been particularly hard for those with low literacy skills. Parents who cannot read have found it impossible to home-school their children, whilst many others have been unable to keep on top of the Government’s ever-changing health guidance as they are unable to read a newspaper or even a sign in a shop.

 

Read Easy Exeter’s Team Leader, Paul Fisher, says the difference learning to read has made to the lives of those who have gone through the course has been huge: “It is fantastic to see those we help to read get better jobs, be able to support their family financially, as well as being able to support their own children’s reading and education. We also see a huge increase in their self-confidence as they join clubs and find joy in reading books for the first time.”

 

Omar’s story: Omar Mohammed Asghar was born in Baghdad, where he completed the equivalent of a degree in physical sciences and was working for an oil company in Iraq as an administrator. In 2014, the continued fighting in the region forced Omar, and his family to make their escape; a dangerous coach journey to Turkey lasting an arduous 15 hours. Finally, in 2019 he was accepted for asylum in the UK and came to Exeter where he can at last enjoy the peace and quiet; playing football with a local club; and most of all a safer future for his children.

But Omar now faces a different kind of challenge – one of not being able to communicate in English. While he first started to learn English in school at the age of 10, he has not always had the opportunity to become particularly fluent – as many native English speakers who “did a bit of French” or similar for school in the UK will surely be able to relate to!

Read Easy was recommended to him by Refugee Support Devon and he started one-to-one reading sessions with a dedicated coach. Despite the additional difficulty of learning to read a different language and alphabet, he is enjoying his reading and is making great strides.

For more information please contact Jolene on 07486 858012 or jolene@readeasy.org.uk