Repair Shop presenter, Jay Blades, has made a new BBC documentary which follows his journey as he faces up to the challenge of learning to read as an adult with the support of a Read Easy Reading Coach.
Jay concealed his inability to read until he was in his 30s, after he struggled to learn to read as a child. Jay is not alone – a quarter of all children in England leave primary school (1), like Jay, unable to read to the expected level. Nearly seven million adults in the UK have very poor literacy skills (2). Many are too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward and ask for help.
Not being able to read properly affects almost every aspect of day to day life – from reading signs and important letters, to voting or being able to understand basic health information. It also makes it more difficult to be able to support your own children’s learning.
In the programme Jay met other people who are on the same journey – like Jacky who has just started to learn to read with Read Easy in her 60s. Her main motivation is being able to read with her 7-year-old granddaughter and help her sister who is now partially sighted.
Jay also met Read Easy Reader, Jeff, who says, ‘‘The most important thing for me is to be able to read stories to my son who has just started school. That’s my goal. I’d also like to be able to understand more in work, and have other options career-wise for the future. Reading will open those doors for me. If I have a chance of something better I’m going to take it”.
You can watch Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 on iPlayer and via the BBC website
There has been an amazing response to the show and we thank Jay so much for all his work in raising the profile of adult literacy and the challenges that over 2.4 million adults in England alone face in everyday life as they struggle with reading or cannot read at all.
- Been contacted by hundreds of people across the UK looking for reading support for themselves or a loved one
- Had so many people getting in touch to find out about volunteering or how they can support our charity
- Further raised awareness within the British public and local communities about how tough life can be for the 2.4 million people in England alone who cannot read or struggle to read
- Been able to show the human faces behind the numbers
- Had more conversations about dyslexia and other conditions that impede learning and confidence
"On this journey I’ll be meeting people who can’t read, for whatever reason, and hopefully helping them. I’d love this film to inspire the millions of other adults in the same situation as me."Jay Blades
Helping adults learn to read isn’t just about enabling them to enjoy a good book. It is so much more.
By helping adults learn to read we:
- Enable parents to read stories to their children and support their education
- Improve their employment opportunities and allow some to take the first steps out of poverty
- Make everyday living – from reading road signs to paying bills – a lot less challenging
- Help reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and low self-esteem
- Give them the confidence to take a more active part in their communities
“I would urge any adult who is unable to read properly to have the courage to come forward, like Jay, and ask for help with their reading. Nobody should feel embarrassed to admit that they didn’t get the skills they needed when they were children.”
Read Easy Founder, Ginny Williams-Ellis
(1) Department for Education, National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2 2012-2013
(2) ‘Paying the Price: The Cost of Very Poor Adult Literacy’, Pro Bono Economics, September 2021