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. Through this she saw how a confidential, one-to-one approach could encourage people to come forward for support and successfully learn to read. Ginny also became aware of the number of adults who struggle with even the most basic level of reading, not just in prisons, but across the population at large.
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 set up to provide free, flexible, friendly and confidential reading coaching to any adult who struggled with reading. In a 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 – the same year as a government survey put the number of adults unable to read at 2.4 million in England alone (Skills for Life, Dept. BIS 2011). It became clear that there was no other organisation attempting to provide free, one-to-one reading coaching on a national basis.
Within a year, three further groups had been formed and the organisation has continued to expand ever since. Ginny Williams-Ellis was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2022, for Services to Education, as founder of the adult literacy charity, Read Easy UK.
Carla Priddon took over as Chief Executive in April 2022 and is building on these strong foundations to lead the central team in expanding the charity and becoming a national voice on adult literacy.
Read Easy has grown considerably and we are set to have 80 volunteer-led groups across England by September 2022. We are working hard with our dedicated Pioneers to open many more local groups in all parts of England, and in due course across the rest of the UK, in the months and years ahead.
“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.”