Jeff moved to the UK from Dominica in the Caribbean when he was almost eleven years old. He arrived in the summer break and started school in Year Seven in the September. Although English was his first language, the way of teaching in the UK was very different and he started to struggle.
According to Jeff, ‘Whilst they recognised I needed extra help, and I was given some support alongside my lessons, it was just a buffer really and not enough to put me on the right path. By the time I was in Year Ten or Eleven, I was getting some extra help with reading, starting with the basics like sounds and breaking down words. But by then it was too late, I was leaving school. I found school difficult but I always tried my best. I had to try much harder than other kids – and go over things countless times and memorise them. I’d check my work against others to make sure I was doing it right and I’d listen much harder. I would always do my homework straight away after the lesson so that I could remember what I’d heard in class’.
Jeff left school after Year Eleven and went to college to study painting and decorating. He qualified but couldn’t get a job, so returned to college to study sports and fitness. He had always been interested in fitness and trained and competed as a professional MMA and K1 fighter.
Jeff now works in a warehouse during the day, and on a Friday night he cooks Caribbean food from home as a delivery business.
Jeff says, ‘It’s always difficult to do certain things but I still try and do it and don’t shy away from things. The more you do, the more you can pick it up. But you do worry, what’s going to happen today, will I be able to read something, will I get it wrong?’.
Jeff started Read Easy in March 2021 and meets with his coach via Zoom twice a week. ‘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.’
'I’d also like to 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.’Jeff - Reader