Who we work with
Shannon Trust Reading Plan engages prisoners who either can’t read or need help to become confident readers. The one to one peer mentored approach is particularly beneficial for prisoners who are reluctant to engage in classroom teaching.
Many adults who can’t read or struggle with reading often feel an overwhelming sense of failure; they don’t realise that many others share the same difficulties. In prison the sense of isolation and vulnerability borne from struggling to read can be magnified and potential Learners may be nervous about making themselves known when they first arrive in prison or are transferred to a different prison.
Our Reading Plan Leads and Local Prison Representatives work with other departments and agencies within the prison to ensure that potential Learners can hear about Shannon Trust Reading Plan and be referred at key stages throughout their sentence such as during Induction, Information and Guidance, educational assessment and during sentence planning.
As these formal points of referral may not correspond with when a potential Learner feels motivated to start learning to read it's equally important that links are made with anyone and everyone in the prison who may be able to recognise and build on a glimmer of motivation e.g. Prison Chaplaincy, Prison Libraries, Diversity Staff, wing/hall staff and family visits. Shannon Trust Reading Plan Mentors have a key role to play in identifying and motivating potential Learners.
The most successful prison Reading Plans have been able to establish a culture where seeking help with learning to read is recognised as being a normal and positive step to take.
Partnering with other organisations
Shannon Trust also works with other prison based charities at individual prison and national levels. Recent partnership work aimed at engaging new Learners includes:
Prison Radio Association
In 2011 PRA and Shannon Trust ran a successful radio campaign called 'Reasons to Read'. Such was the success of the campaign, we now have annual campaigns. Continuing our 'by prisoners for prisoners ethos' campaigns are developed by the PRA team many of who are serving or ex-prisoners. In addition to interviews and features about the Reading Plan, a lasting legacy of each campaign in a set of adverts designed to encourage potential Learners to start the Reading Plan.With over 80% of prisoners listening to prison radio, the ads are a fantastic opportunity to get information about the Reading Plan directly to prisoners.
Voices Unheard - A Study of Irish Travellers in Prison (June 2011) identified the Shannon Trust peer mentored reading plan as an example of an education programme that was culturally suitable for Irish Travellers. Shannon Trust and Irish Chaplaincy are now working together to promote the Shannon Trust Reading Plan to Irish Travellers through diversity meetings and newsletters.
The Reading Agency
The Reading Agency's annual Six Book Challenge provides additional incentive for new readers to practice and develop their new found skills - albeit with continuing support from their Mentors.