Read Easy gets going in the North West – Planning, Partnerships and a stroll on Blackpool Prom

Our North West Regional Adviser, Vicky, joined Read Easy in May and has enjoyed  meeting potential partnership organisations and volunteers since then. This update includes some of the questions she has encountered on her travels in and around Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire.

In my first two months with Read Easy, I have been reaching out to adult learning and literacy providers, as well as speaking with many potential volunteers in our region. Some of the most common questions I’ve been asked are answered below – I hope they give a flavour of why we are passionate about the potential of Read Easy in the North West and our first steps to establish new groups in the region. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with me! (contact details below…)

Why Read Easy? What do learners get from this approach?
Having worked in learning and volunteer management for the past ten years, I’ve witnessed first-hand the difference that one to one tuition can make for adults and young people alike.

However, in my own experience it was almost impossible to provide personalised support when also juggling the needs of a group or class. Read Easy fills this gap with its free confidential one to one approach; this has encouraged many adults to ‘have another go’ at learning to read and having done so, the clear majority are surprised and delighted by how easily they can learn.

The impact is consistently described as ‘life changing’, with one new Reader summing it up as follows: “I feel part of society for the first time in my life”. With positive testimonials from learners and volunteers alike, with a reflective and proactive staff team, I felt confident that this is a model which could benefit communities within our region, by boosting existing adult learning provision. Read Easy accepts referrals from other agencies and also refers learners ‘on’. We can help by being a first ‘rung on the ladder’ for learners to develop their skills and confidence. Volunteers also tell us that they benefit immensely from knowing they’ve helped to make a real difference –  it’s a win-win situation.

What are the benefits of a Read Easy group for my area?
While Read Easy may be new to the North West, it has a great track record. As the only charity taking a national approach to one to one reading coaching in the community, it has 26 affiliated, volunteer groups, across the South West and Midlands, with more in development. Reading coaching and team management approaches have been refined and developed over the past decade, in close partnership with The Shannon Trust.

How much does it cost?
Since each group raises its own funds locally to train Reading Coaches and provide reading materials, it also makes a Read Easy group a cost-effective addition to provision in many areas where they work. There is no cost of learning to read for each Reader.

Great! Where do you have a group?
We currently have no groups ‘up and running’ but we hope to change this soon. Read Easy aims to work strategically to identify the areas where our one to one approach may be most beneficial. Our North West Region currently includes:
· Cheshire
· Cumbria
· Greater Manchester
· Lancashire
· Merseyside
· North Shropshire
· Staffordshire
· South Yorkshire
· West Yorkshire

We are currently focusing on the urban centres of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, with the aspiration of establishing at least three groups in our first year. The first step has been to meet with existing providers and commissioners to identify if there is a need for additional literacy support in the local area, rather than replicating or aiming to replace existing provision. This has enabled us to identify Oldham, Central Blackpool and The City of Liverpool to pioneer new groups, supported by local library services, adult learning colleagues and third sector organisations. We are also delighted to confirm that we are actively recruiting Pioneers for the City of Manchester and Trafford.

I’m not from one of those areas but I would love to get involved – can I help?
Please do get in touch! It may be that your area would benefit from a group and this could be developed in future, or alternatively you may be willing to travel to support our work in a nearby location. Either way, I would love to have a chat with you.

We hope to move on to review the potential for services in Cheshire, South & West Yorkshire in the coming months and begin to establish relationships in areas of high need.”

How can I find out more and get involved?
If you would be interested in exploring how Read Easy could support learners in your area, or would like to know more about getting involved as a volunteer in the North West, please contact our Regional Adviser, Vicky, for a no obligation chat on 07931 138350 or She would love to hear from you.

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