Steve had a difficult time at school which prevented him from learning effectively, ‘I couldn’t concentrate at school and didn’t want to be there. Once I got to junior school I realised there was a problem and that I was well behind. By the time I started secondary school I got mixed up with the wrong people and I was bullied quite a lot because I was quite big – I didn’t concentrate and so my reading continued to suffer’.

 

‘It was horrible to see others learning to read. I would just go and sit at the back of the class where there was less chance you would get questioned or asked to read out loud. The brainy people used to sit at the front.’

 

Steve’s Mum and Dad also struggled with reading: ‘They were always out working and didn’t have a lot of spare time’ says Steve, ‘My mum had three jobs and my dad did shift work. Dinner was in the oven when we got home and we just got on with it. We had to be independent’.

Steve left school and joined a youth opportunity scheme: ‘They took you out and you did painting and other odd jobs round the village and got paid for it. I earned about £25 per week’. He then went on to take all sorts of jobs where he wouldn’t need to be able to read – working in a wire basket factory, serving in a petrol station and working nights in a bakery. It was whilst working at the bakery that Steve started to suffer from depression and went to his GP to ask for help. ‘The doctor asked me what I thought was causing my low mood, and basically it was my job and working nights all the time. This was the turning point for me – I had to do something about it’.

Steve asked a friend to help him find out who he could speak to about learning to read. She found Read Easy UK on the internet and gave him the details. ‘I’d bump in to her and she’d ask me if I’d phoned them. She kept reminding me until I built up the courage to phone. It’s the most important phone call I’ve ever made. Learning to read is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve got a life now and I’m happy. I don’t need to worry about anything anymore’.

 

 

‘I work for a ‘meals on wheels’ service now delivering to vulnerable people and I absolutely love it. If hadn’t learned to read and write I would still be at the bakery’.

 

‘I didn’t have many friends before. Now I have loads of friends. A group of us from work take it in turns to meet up at each other’s houses and have tea and cakes. I go fishing on my days off. It finally feels like I’m living’.

 

Steve has completed English level one at an adult education college and will now start level two. ‘I’m also writing a little book’ he says, ‘One of the coaches is helping me to write it. I’ve done 5000 words so far, telling my story. I want to give it to Read Easy to show to other people like me and inspire them to learn to read too’.

 

‘The biggest change in my life is my self-confidence. I just think ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ now and I have a go. I used ‘pay at the pump’ for the first time the other day – I would never have done that before because I’d be worried I couldn’t read the instructions on the screen. If you can’t read, don’t be ashamed, just go out and ask for help’.

"I used ‘pay at the pump’ for the first time the other day – I would never have done that before because I’d be worried I couldn’t read the instructions on the screen."

Steve - Graduate Reader, Read Easy Winchester