One Page: Partnerships – working together to reduce crime

Ian Merrill
December 9, 2022

One Page


Welcome to 'One Page'. In this monthly newsletter, I will talk about the people I have met, and the things I have read or seen relating to Shannon Trust's vision, which is a future where everyone can experience the positive impact of learning. I hope these short pieces will start conversations, generate new ideas, and help our vision become a reality.

Partnerships – working together to reduce crime

I have been reflecting recently on how much more we achieve by working in partnership. Whether that is ‘on the ground’ where organisations overlap day to day; or ‘strategically’, where we blend different skills and experiences for a common purpose.


Last month in Parliament, the Justice Minister, Damian Hinds MP, spoke about low literacy rates in prisons. He was asked about the effect of poor literacy on prisoners’ access to education and training, which is designed to reduce reoffending. The minister said that “literacy is fundamental.” He mentioned the work of Shannon Trust, and other organisations, in helping more people in prison to take up opportunities to learn.


Of course, I was delighted with a call out for Shannon Trust. But as Hinds said, other organisations work to improve the lives of those in prison, and help them into education and training that can inspire and lead to positive change.


At Shannon Trust, we have seen this positive change through partnership for ourselves. We are working with Prison Education Framework provider People Plus across 6 prisons, to reach more learners. Not only does this benefit the individuals and the prisons they live in, but it also helps their families and communities upon release.


But our partnerships do not stop there.


We have been working with Yalla Cooperative to develop a digital app based on our Turning Pages reading programme. I am excited that this new app, Turning Pages Digital, is now live.


For the next 12 months, we are piloting the app in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex probation regions, and it will be available to prison leavers in these areas. The app can be used on any device, so the learner can work with a reading mentor or on their own.



Our partnership with Yalla means Shannon Trust can give more people on probation the chance to improve their reading skills. This in turn can lead to other education and training, helping prison leavers steer clear of reoffending.


Another great example of partnership, is our work with Storybook Dads.


Having a parent in prison is never easy for a child, but Storybook Dads are reconnecting families through storytelling. Dads (and mums)can record a bedtime story for their child, helping them to maintain their bond.


We have been working with Storybook Dads to make sure all our learners know they can access the programme with an assisted read. This means they can get help to read a story to their child, even if they themselves cannot read the story.


The Storybook Dads’ trained editors do a fantastic job of removing mistakes, background noise and the voice of the reading assistant. They even add music and sound effects to make the recording lively, engaging and personal.


It is easy to imagine how much these recordings mean to parents and children, especially in the weeks and months between prison visits.


Strong family links are a key factor in reduced reoffending.


By working with Storybook Dads, more people in prison and their children will benefit from the emotional bond of reading together. Having a child can even prompt parents to want to learn to read, so they can support their child during their early years at school.


When done well, partnership can make all the difference.


Please get in touch if anything I have written resonates with you; whether you agree, disagree or you have a suggestion for how we can improve what we do.

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