It’s never too late to learn to read.
There are an estimated 2.4 million adults in England alone who cannot read at all or struggle to read simple words. Many people don’t tell anyone and they try to hide it. The really good news is that it’s never too late to learn. Read Easy Southwark is a new, local charity set up to help adults who can’t read, change their story.
I met Jimmy (not his real name) a couple of months ago. Quietly spoken, and a little shy, he wants to learn to read. He’s in his late thirties and he wants to be able to read to his children and help them with their learning.
When I joined Read Easy Southwark I thought I could use some of my Early Years teaching experience to help coach a new reader like Jimmy, but I quickly discovered, there are just so many Jimmys. So many adults living in Southwark who struggle to read or can’t read at all. I was persuaded to take on more than just coaching. I agreed to become the coordinator for the group which means I get to meet people like Jimmy, who wants to learn to read, and people like Shelagh, who has a bit of time to spare and wants to help other adults learn to read. It’s been a privilege to support people as they take their first steps towards learning a skill so many of us take for granted and a privilege too, to help build the relationship between the readers and the coaches and provide the support they need for as long as it takes.
It’s been a real community effort too. We’ve recruited volunteer coaches in SE21, SE22 and SE23 and we’ve got a fabulous Ambassador, the novelist and Dulwich resident Monica Ali. When we met for coffee recently she agreed to lend her support to Read Easy Southwark because words were an incredibly important part of her life and getting help learning to read “shouldn’t stop just because you’re no longer a child.” She’s right, it’s never too late to learn.
If you’ve read this, please help us help people who can’t read it. Adults who might not be able to read signs in supermarkets or on the back of a medicine bottle or able to read their children’s teachers notes. Adults who just want another chance to catch up, to rebuild their self esteem, be able to better to support their children’s learning or to get a better paid job. If you want to find out more about Read Easy Southwark, sponsor a reader or help us raise the funds to pay for the reading resources we use to help readers learn, then please contact me at Southwarkcoordinator@readeasy.org.uk
Shelagh and “Jimmy” (Coach and Reader )