In early December 2021, Chair of Trustees, Michael Wemms, Verity McLelland - South West Regional Manager, and Megan Jackson -Communications and Fundraising Assistant, had the privilege of visiting HMP Dartmoor to see newly trained mentors receive their certificates.
Gathering in the library, the central point of the Shannon Trust operation, the mentors shared the stories of their learners with pride.
Some even shared their own experiences of learning to read later in life and wanted to give back to society: “Being a late reader, I know and relate to the problem of not being able to read. Now being able to see your students face when they receive their completion certificate is amazing.”
The Governor, Steve Mead, went on to congratulate the mentors on their hard work, and it was evident that the reason the programme works at HMP Dartmoor is because of the whole prison approach.
From the Governor to the Prison Officers, from volunteers to mentors; everyone plays a key role in making sure the Shannon Trust reading programme has a strong presence at Dartmoor.
Linda, the librarian at Dartmoor said: “The success of the programme is a two pronged one - the scheme itself, its resources and that it is led by prisoners for prisoners which gives so many more access opportunities for the learners, and the fact that it has the support of the whole prison community so its importance is recognised by all.”
COVID-19 has disproportionally affected the way the Shannon Trust reading programme is run across all the whole prison estate.
HMP Dartmoor was no different, with many mentors retraining as the programme developed and expanded throughout the pandemic. When restrictions started to ease, and in-person learning was allowed, mentors and learners finally started to see the benefits of learning to read again.
One mentor went onto say: “I’d encourage anyone to [become a mentor] because it can be rewarding and anyone who needs helps don’t be afraid to ask for it – that’s why we’re here.”
The mentor coordinator added: “I feel really good knowing I have changed someone else’s life for the better.”
HMP Dartmoor is a shining example of the great work we do at Shannon Trust. They’ve taken our programme and completely excelled in recruiting mentors and helping learners.
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