What I like about volunteering for Shannon Trust

Michael Wemms
May 31, 2022

The moment I heard about Shannon Trust, I wanted to be a part of it and was delighted when the opportunity came my way.


My first thoughts were about what it must be like not being able to read and the frightening consequences in terms of self esteem and lost opportunities. It also came as an enormous shock to learn of the vast numbers of people in prison who are living with reading difficulties, and I was amazed to discover that a fairly small charity, our Shannon Trust, is leading the way and demonstrates a unique ability to do something positive to help.


I now fully understand the power of the original idea of people in prison who can read helping those who cannot, and the effectiveness of Turning Pages. Add to this the enormous contribution of large numbers of volunteers and I feel very proud to be part of an organisation that is achieving so much.


I’ve had the pleasure of talking with prison volunteers and visiting prisons to meet volunteer mentors and their learners. I now feel that I have a clear understanding of our strengths and that being able to rely on many dedicated and highly skilled volunteers is top amongst these.


Ian Merrill, our CEO, tells us that we can and must develop our capacity to reach significantly more learners, and his clear vision of how we can do this is infectious. It’s very exciting to be part of a real ‘can do’ culture. Digitising Turning Pages will be transformational in extending our reach; broadening our scope to help with numeracy difficulties is an exciting development and our move to reach into other communities is essential.


There is one other feature of Shannon Trust that appeals to me enormously. This is because we are helping people we know have made a considerable effort to help themselves. We are here for people who can see that a better life is possible and know that the ability to read is the essential starting point. There is an added benefit when our mentors find delivering Turning Pages so rewarding and a boost to their confidence and this is very good to see.

In a nutshell, I know the liberating effect of learning to read and the sheer joy of it. Like every one who is part of Shannon Trust, I want others to experience this. I am proud to be part of an organisation that has such a worthy purpose, is delivering on its promise, and I’m stimulated by the challenges and opportunities we face. It is great to be part of a culture that enables everyone to contribute new ideas.


In addition to all our volunteers who work within prisons, we have a small, but strong core team and I chair a board of very effective volunteer trustees.


My sincere thanks to every one of you.

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