The generous support of trusts and foundations enables us to continue to support people who are looking to transform their lives through learning to read.
Ongoing funding is essential in developing new ways of reaching more learners. Potential funders can find out more about our work in our FAQs below.
We believe everyone deserves another chance and has the potential to create a positive future in which they can thrive. Find our more about what we do and why, and read our vision, mission and values.Read more
The first book was basic and good, Shannon Trust gives good foundations in reading and English. I’ve spent years in education but this has been far more beneficial in a short period of time.
I get a real sense of pride knowing the positive impact I am having on someone’s life, and I hope when I leave prison I am able to help more adults who struggle with reading and writing.
I used to dread working but now I enjoy it. Before, I struggled to hold down a full-time paid job for many years. When I leave here, I won’t need to go onto benefits, I feel I’ll hold down a job.
It has made a big impact on my life because being able to read has made things more possible for me. I can now apply for jobs, college and my driving test.
Shannon Trust supports people in prison to transform their lives by learning to read. We train and inspire prisoners who can read to teach those that can’t. Each year, we help thousands of prisoners unlock the power of reading, so that they can build a different, positive future for themselves and their families. We provide everything needed for someone to learn to read, including our reading resource, Turning Pages. Sessions are one to one, take place outside formal education, and learners work at their own pace.
Our project enables more people in prison to gain a fundamental skill that they need to navigate daily life. In turn, it provides increased access to education, training and rehabilitative courses that will help them to avoid reoffending and move into employment.
Each year, we help thousands of people in prison to learn to read. But we know that there are many more people who don’t take up the opportunity to improve their skills. With your funding, we will be able to ensure that more people will benefit from our reading programme, not just in prisons, but also through our community pilot.
People who start learning to read in prison don’t always have the support they need to continue when they leave; whilst there is some community provision, it remains a postcode lottery. Other prison leavers need another opportunity to make the choice to learn.
To support our mission and vision, we consider it imperative that we support people caught up in the criminal justice system who live in the community. This was a key strand of our 2019 to 2021 strategy, identified through consultations with stakeholders, and our 2022 to 2024 strategy will carry this forward to support as many disadvantaged people as possible who struggle to read.
This project gives us the opportunity to work with people at risk of offending, aiming to divert them away from prison. The need is immense: 57% of people with community behaviour orders (or in the region of 142,000) struggle with reading and literacy.
In March 2021, we began a pilot project to deliver Turning Pages in the community. Building on our learning to date, we are currently collaborating with a number of key partners to develop models and establish ‘what works’ in terms of providing one to one support around literacy to people outside of prisons. Those we are working with include probation services, drug and alcohol services, approved premises and a number of community based organisation that support prison leavers upon release and in various locations across the country.
There is significant potential for Shannon Trust to use digital approaches to improve its delivery and impact, particularly through the development of a Turning Pages app. Our current delivery model uses physical resources – principally books – combined with face to face support and training.
We now wish to develop online delivery of Turning Pages, either for self-led learning or supported by a mentor where this is available. There are 2 settings where use of a Turning Pages app will be explored:
An app would offer significant potential for scaling in the community by reducing reliance on staff, volunteers and mentors to drive uptake and deliver the intervention whilst still achieving impact. Our work in the community, due to the likelihood of higher levels of digital access, offers the most potential for testing an app at a reasonable scale and reaching significant numbers of learners.
Whilst current digital access in prisons is limited, there are significant plans in the pipeline and Shannon Trust intend to develop an app that can work for prison based devices. This should offer huge potential to drive reach and impact over time. Through our early digital discovery work, we have identified a high level target user journey.
Our policy is to hold 6 months' reserves. Our reserves include restricted, unrestricted and designated funds.
Compared with the general population, people in prison are more likely to have been permanently excluded from school, which means they are less likely to gain permanent employment, are more likely to experience homelessness, and are likely to keep reoffending.
Our reading programme is designed to make it as easy as possible for an adult who has difficulty with reading, to begin to learn and improve their skills. Shannon Trust trains prisoners who can read to work on a one to one basis with learners. Each session is short, flexible and takes place in a safe, comfortable space away from formal learning. Our reading resources, Turning Pages, allows learners to go at their own pace and helps instill confidence as they progress.
Learning to read allows people to be more independent in every aspect of their lives and to confidently move into employment, laying a stable foundation for a life free from crime. The ability to read also helps people in prison maintain relationships with family and friends, reducing rates of reoffending because they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging.
The benefits of the reading programme goes beyond learners developing a key skill; mentors benefit too. Many mentors said they can understand others better, their own communication skills have improved and they’ve developed new skills. Nearly all say they’d recommend becoming a mentor to others.
Shannon Trust is a literacy charity that currently operates in every prison in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Monthly statistical returns measure uptake of the reading programme by individual prisons, including number of new mentors, new learners and sessions delivered. These include:
We are also collecting information and feedback on our response during COVID-19 and the resources that we have sent into prisons, such as the activity packs and a mentor training CD.
We use a range of reports and measures to evaluate outcomes and the impact of the reading programme in prisons.