‘Learning to read has changed my life’
Steve has been improving his reading skills with Read Easy Winchester and gone from strength to strength. We are following his reading journey with great interest and are thrilled to share the various milestones he is reaching below:
The dramatic increase in Steve’s confidence became very evident when he took up the considerable challenge to speak to a large audience at a meeting of the Hampshire Writers’ Society at the University of Winchester. He told them how 18 months ago he could not read or write, spoke with a stammer and seldom went out. Now, he said, he has “the courage to go out and do different things” such as voting, using an ATM and socialising. “Who would have thought that I would now have the confidence to speak in front of an audience of 60 people without a stammer?”
Steve sat down to applause after he shared the news that he had been accepted on the Level 2 course at Peter Symonds College. Where to next, Steve?!
In July, following an application process, which required him to attend an interview, sit a test and produce an independent piece of writing, Steve won a place at the Peter Symonds College in Winchester to do a Level 2 Functional Skills course starting in October. “There were 79 questions… and I only got five wrong!”
News reached us that Steve had completed the Yes we can read course, had his graduation ceremony and was about to start Read Easy’s Moving Ahead course with his coach, Lorna.
In February, we were delighted to hear that Steve had found the confidence to visit his local health centre and book in to see healthcare staff for a check up. This was the first time that he had ever been to the doctors as an adult; previously he was too nervous because he couldn’t read and fill in the forms.
A study of ‘health literacy’ published in the BMJ (15th March 2012) concluded that ‘a third of older adults in England have difficulties reading and understanding basic health related written information’ and that ‘poorer understanding is associated with higher mortality’. These findings are supported by two similar studies undertaken in the USA.
We were sent a lovely photo and press release that was published in a local paper to celebrate the first anniversary of the Read Easy Winchester group.
Steve – baked a cake to say thank you for the difference the gift of reading has made to his life. Over the past year the group has accepted 16 readers seeking tuition and has increased the number of volunteer coaches to 25.
At the end of June, we had news that Steve had voted for the first time in his life in the EU Referendum, though he asked not to be held accountable for the result!
Below is a letter Steve wrote to us (with support from his reading coach), describing the difference that starting to learn to read with Read Easy had already made to his life.
Dear Read Easy,
Thank you very much Read Easy for helping me to read and write. This is the first letter I’ve ever written.
It has changed the way I do things, my life. It’s given me the courage to go out and do different things, not just reading and writing but going out on my own and mixing with the public.
Five or six months ago I would never have done the things I’ve done, like joining the library, reading newspapers, going on public transport and going to coffee shops and the supermarket. I stayed home before. I always wanted to read books like my mum. I thought it’d be nice to sit and relax and read books. I started reading but I didn’t understand. I’d get to the end of the page and didn’t understand so I put it down.
I used to stutter a bit but now I can pronounce long words much more clearer. I’ve slowed myself down, just like when I’m reading I’ve slowed myself down. I’m thinking about what I want to say. I used to speak quietly but no one has told me to speak louder for months now.
The other day I went shopping to Sports Direct and bought some t-shirts. I got home, tried them on and 2 didn’t fit. So I took them back. That’s the first time I’ve ever taken something back. I felt good doing it. I had enough courage to take them back instead of chucking them in the back of the wardrobe. Anything now I would take back if it didn’t fit.
I’ve learnt more in the past 6 months than I learnt at school. If school was like this, I’d be a brain surgeon by now. Learning to read has made me more happier, more calmer, chilled, and I’m smiling a lot. It has changed me. The reading is good and has got me to do the rest of it.