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Jimmy's story

Every week Jimmy's Mum would send him a letter. But they were always left unread, torn up and thrown in the bin. Because Jimmy couldn't read.

Being unable to read in jail, creates a prison within a prison. It meant Jimmy found it impossible to join education classes, read about the help available to change his behaviour or to keep in touch with his family.

Jimmy's story is highlighted by Cathy in our Radio 4 Appeal. We'd love you to listen and donate if possible.

'I knew learning to read would help me.'

The chance to learn one-to-one with Ben, another prisoner, helped Jimmy overcome the shame he felt and get the support he knew would help him.

‘It was tough, I was so embarrassed. It was hard learning, I wanted to give in but something kept drawing me back. Ben knew I could open that door, that I could read.’ 

'Reading has opened so many doors.'

Jimmy now has qualifications and he's taken courses to help him change his behaviour. All of this would have been impossible if he couldn't read.

‘If I hadn’t been able to read, I wouldn’t have done the course, there were no pictures to look at. If I hadn’t done that course, I’d have been in a rut and tangled up misbehaviour.’  

'You remind me of me.'

Jimmy went onto train as a Mentor to help others unlock the power of reading.

‘When someone needs help with reading, I can see it. There was a man on one of my courses. He couldn’t read, he’d just throw his arms in the air. I said to him “Do you think I was born reading? You remind me of me”.' 

If I hadn't been able to read, I wouldn't have done the course, there were no pictures to look at. If I hadn't done the course, I'd have been in a rut, tangled up in drugs and misbehviour.

Jimmy

Why I'm supporting Shannon Trust

Listen to Cathy explain why she's supporting us to help unlock the power of reading.

Listen in Listen online

Donate to the appeal on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal website