The work of Shannon Trust resonates across educational, political and justice sectors as being effective at engaging and helping thousands of prisoners who cannot read. Their support for what we do has helped considerably to raise awareness amongst key stakeholders and win funding to deliver the Reading Plan in prisons throughout the UK.
The National Reading Network
Over the last four years we have benefited from the knowledge we gained delivering the reading plan in Young Offender Institutions, through our YOI National Reading Network (NRN). The lessons learned helped shape our understanding of how to better support our teams of volunteers and prison staff delivering the Reading Plan in individual prisons. The NRN experience informed our:
- organisational changes
- improvements in training we deliver to volunteers and prisoners
- development of methodologies for collecting impact evidence from learners and mentors.
Providing a 'voice' to Learners and Mentors was a key feature of the YOI NRN. Through questionnaires, Learners and Mentors were asked to share with us their reading plan experience. They were asked about the impact being involved with the plan was having on them and to let us know what we needed to improve.
Our Snapshot Surveys have continued. Each year, Learners and Mentors from all Reading Plans, both YOI and adult are given the chance to share the impact of the Reading Plan on them.
In 2017, 597 Learners and 692 Mentors took part in the survey. We asked both Learners and Mentors about the impact being involved in the Reading Plan was having on them:
- 9 out of 10 reported that their reading skills were improving
- 7 out of 10 said their communication skills were improving
- 8 out of 10 reported their self-confidence had improved
- 7 out of 10 were feeling more positive about their future.
- 6 out of 10 said that learning to read was making prison life easier
- 6 out of 10 said they'd go on to do more learning.
- 8 out of 10 would recommend the Reading Plan to others.
- 6 out of 10 said their communication skills were improving
- 5 out of 10 reported improvements in their self-confidence
- 6 out of 10 had developed new skills
- 7 out of 10 said their Reading Plan Mentor role was helping them understand others better
- 8 out of 10 said their Mentor role was a good use of time in prison
- 3 out of 10 were feeling more positive about the future
- 3 out of 10 had been encouraged to go on to do more learning
- 4 out of 10 said their teamwork had improved