Success stories

The impact of the reading plan's peer mentored approach goes way beyond just learning to read. It builds confidence and self esteem and opens up the potential of further learning. But don’t take our word for it, in this section is a selection of personal testimonies of prisoners, prison staff, and Shannon Trust volunteers who have taken part.

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  • 'It's a two way thing. As much as I'm helping people, the Reading Plan has helped me'
    Reading Plan Mentor

    One of our Mentors, Gina, explains more about how the Reading Plan’s helping her as well as the women she supports.

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  • 'The positive impacts can be truly breathtaking.'
    An ex-Reading Plan Mentor

    Writing as an ex-prisoner who mentored many fellow inmates on the Shannon Trust's reading scheme in three different prisons, I can wholeheartedly endorse the charity's work. The positive impacts can be truly breathtaking.

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  • 'In a little over 7 weeks I had gone from being a non-reader to being able to read short story books.'
    Learner from HMP Swansea

    Two key features of the Reading Plan are touched on here - how prison staff can make a difference by spotting and referring potential Learners and the importance of the prisoner peer mentored approach.

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  • 'They have obviously been written for adults.'
    Shannon Trust Mentor

    During the Summer, Turning Pages, our new resource was rolled out to all Reading Plans. Read about the reaction to it from one group of Mentors at HMP Rochester.

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  • 'I feel very proud of myself that I have taken this bad time in my life and I am making the best of it.'
    Bradley, Shannon Trust Mentor and ex-Learner

    Mentors who were once Learners are ideally placed to support new Learners. Their first hand experience of the impact of poor reading skills and the coping mechanisms poor readers develop helps them to encourage potential Learners. Bradley completed the Reading Plan and continued to work on his literacy skills. He is now a Shannon Trust Reading Plan Mentor.

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  • 'For both of us, the time we had left to serve in prison suddenly became something valuable to us.'
    Lloyd, Shannon Trust Mentor

    Lloyd is serving his prison sentence in Kent. After years in prison he became involved in Shannon Trust. Becoming a Mentor, and later a Mentor Coordinator for the entire prison, has transformed not only Lloyd’s future prospects, but also those of the fellow prisoners he helps every day.

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  • "I can now read as every 30 year old should be able to."
    Clive on learning to read again

    Our Mentors understand that there are many reasons why an adult can struggle to read. Brain damage following a car accident left Clive unable to read, here he describes the support of his Mentor and how learning to read again has helped him regain his confidence.

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  • 'At the time he couldn’t read a word, even his phonetics were non-existent. Two weeks ago he finished the Toe by Toe manual.'
    Stuart, a Shannon Trust Reading Plan Mentor, working with Travellers

    The ‘Voices Unheard’ study of Irish Travellers in prison reported that 53% of Travellers in prison had serious problems with literacy. Many Travellers, having never had any formal schooling, found that even the most basic literacy classes in prison assumed a level of reading and writing which they did not possess.

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  • 'Prisoners learning to read will change your day and their lives.'
    Prison Officer, HMP Stocken

    Brian, a prison officer, was a joint winner of the Shannon Trust/POA Toe by Toe Cup 2011. The cup is awarded to POA members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Shannon Trust Reading Plan (Toe by Toe). This is his story.

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  • 'In the words of a Learner - “The Shannon Trust Reading Plan really can perform miracles.'
    Shannon Trust Reading Plan Lead

    Sarah is a tutor working in a large category C prison in the West Midlands. In 2010 she devised a course for prisoners who had previously been unable to access education due to their low literacy levels. The Shannon Trust Reading Plan was included as part of this course and timetables were developed which allowed time for Mentors to work alongside Learners. Sarah explains some unexpected benefits of the reading plan.

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  • 'The Reading Plan works with and not against my education provider and I truly believe it provides a better opportunity for the offenders in reducing their risk of re-offending and gaining further education or employment on release.'
    Rob Davis, ex-Governor, HMP Chelmsford

    Three years ago, the Reading plan at Chelmsford was a small programme running with varying degrees of success in the prison. There was no structure to the programme and responsibility for it moved between different departments and individuals. Little or no staff time was given to running the Reading Plan .

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