Families & friends

Support from friends and family is a vital part of a Learner’s progress and involvement in the Shannon Trust Reading Plan. There are a number of things you can do to encourage a poor reader to get involved and to keep them motivated to continue both whilst in custody and on release

In custody

The Shannon Trust Reading Plan is a simple and effective way of helping people to learn to read. Prisoners who can read help those who can’t.

If the person you’re visiting struggles with reading, they can get help from a prisoner Mentor trained by Shannon Trust. Ask them if they’ve heard about the Reading Plan and talk to them about getting involved.

What you can tell them about the Reading Plan...

Sessions are:

  • One-to-one and private.
  • Delivered by other specially trained prisoners.
  • Very short (20 minutes) and take place five times a week.

It’s for complete beginners and those who can read a little but want to get better.

There’s no exams and people improve at their own pace.

Progress can be very quick so even if someone has a short sentence or is on remand their reading can improve.

People rarely get the opportunity for free, one-to-one reading lessons on the ‘outside’ so they should take advantage of what’s available now.


Getting help to learn to read will make it easier to…

  • Keep in touch with family and friends.
  • Order food and canteen items, make applications and manage money.
  • Make the most of education and treatment programmes.
  • Communicate with legal advisors .

They can start the Reading Plan or find out more by speaking to…

  • A Shannon Trust Mentor – they wear Shannon Trust t-shirts and will know how to get them involved.
  • A wing officer who should know how to get them involved.
  • The Reading Plan Lead – the member of prison staff responsible for the Reading Plan in this prison.

If the person you’re visiting has difficulty making contact with the right person, look for more information on our poster in the Visitor Centre.


If you know somebody who has already started the Reading Plan

People who start the Reading Plan can make really quick progress but sometimes progress can slow. In both cases, support and encouragement from family and friends really helps to keep motivation up so it’s useful for you to ask how they’re getting on and help motivate them.  For example, if they have small children who are visiting them, you might like to bring an easy book for them to read to the child.

Before release

Turning Pages is made up of 5 manuals. Learners are given their own copy of each manual as they progress. They own these manuals and can take any they’ve already completed or are working on with them when they leave prison. They need to make sure that the manuals are on their property lists. 

On release

When your friend or family member is released and comes home with their Turning Pages manual(s), any confident reader can use it to continue daily sessions with them. Have a look at the manual – it will show you where they have got to -  and read the Mentor pages, which give instructions for each section. Plan 20 minutes sessions into the day so that it does not get missed – perhaps when the children are doing their homework so everyone is learning together. To continue to progress, a Learner needs to be doing 20 minutes a day for a least 3 days a week. More sessions in a week will speed up progress but don’t be tempted to do more than one session a day. Alongside the manual, Learners also need to be reading other things – this does not have to be books – so encourage them to do this. ‘Red top’ newspapers (e.g. The Sun, The Mirror) have very easy words in them and can be managed by many poor readers so encourage them to keep trying.

After release, they can get a copy of the next manual when they are ready for it by calling 01746 787 392. At the moment the accompanying short reading books aren’t available outside of the prison.