We believe in rehabilitation and know that for many, learning to read plays a key role. It has a transformative impact on the life of the individual and those around them, which in turn can lead to reduced reoffending and a better society.

Being unable to read is more common than you think, affecting 16% of adults in the general population. In prisons, over 50%of people struggle with reading. This means reduced access to education, training and rehabilitation programmes which could transform their lives, and give them hope for a better future outside of prison.

There are many reasons why someone might not have learnt to read, such as a difficult home life, low family literacy, dyslexia or struggling in school. Many non-readers learn techniques to cope, such as relying on family or friends to help, showing disinterest to avoid the subject – it can be a source of frustration or shame.

Research shows that people with poor reading skills are more likely to live in inadequate, overcrowded housing, and experience poor physical and mental health. They’re also more likely to be in unskilled jobs or even pursue alternative methods of generating income that can leave them vulnerable to abuse and lead them into crime.

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We work in all prisons across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and support thousands of learners and mentors every year to transform their lives.

Learning to read has immediate benefits for learners:

Improves family relationships including with children – learners have reported they feel like better parents being able to read and write to their children

Makes day to day life easier and safer for the learner and those around them

Helps to break the cycle of low literacy, which runs in families

Offers people better opportunities – including education and employment – providing a brighter outlook for the future

Helping people learn to read builds better communities.

According to the Winter 2021 Bromley Briefings, the annual total economic and social cost of reoffending is £18.1 billion. This report states that engagement with education can significantly reduce reoffending, and that family contact can also help address the causes of reoffending on release.

Shannon Trust’s work addresses both of these key aspects of rehabilitation – providing learners with access to education opportunities, and facilitating better communication with their families through letters. It’s not just the learner that benefits from learning to read, it affects all of society.

With your support, we can help people learn to read, access education and training opportunities, build relationships with their families, and have more hope for the future.