Our History


Shannon Trust was started by Christopher Morgan in 1997 following a series of letters with a life sentenced prisoner, Tom Shannon, in a penpal scheme run by the Prison Reform Trust.

Our history

Shannon Trust was started by Christopher Morgan in 1997 following a series of letters with a life sentenced prisoner, Tom Shannon, in a penpal scheme run by the Prison Reform Trust.

Reading Tom’s letters, Christopher learned about prison life and the shocking levels of poor literacy amongst prisoners. In 1995 the letters were put together in a book titled, ‘Invisible Crying Tree’. The royalties from the book were used to found Shannon Trust. From the beginning, our work has been by prisoners for prisoners, with those who can read teaching those who can't.

We work closely with prisons and prisoners to make the Shannon Trust Reading Plan available to any prisoner who could benefit from improving their reading, or from being a mentor to others. Shannon Trust provides all resources and training to prisons free of charge. Our Reading Plan operates in every prison in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Today, thousands of Learners a year take part in the Reading Plan helped by prisoner Mentors to unlock the power of reading.

Key dates
1995
Invisible Crying Tree published
1997
Shannon Trust founded
2001
First Reading Plan starts at HMP Wandsworth
2004
Centre for Social Justice Charity of the Year Award
2009
Winner - Guardian Charity Award
2012
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award
2015
Turning Pages, our reading programme launched across all prisons.
2016
External evaluation of Turning Pages and the Reading Plan by Birmingham City University.
2017
Winner of the inaugural Action for Equity Award (LSE III)